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Veeam’s Data Protection Trends Report 2022 Says 67% of Businesses Are Turning to Cloud-Based Solutions to Protect Data

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The disconnect between business expectations and IT’s ability to deliver has never been more impactful, according to the Veeam – Data Protection Trends Report 2022, which found that 89% of organizations are not protecting data sufficiently. Veeam Software found that 88% of IT leaders expect data protection budgets to rise at a higher rate than broader IT spending as data becomes more critical to business success and the challenges of protecting it grow in complexity. More than two-thirds are turning to cloud-based services to protect essential data.

The Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 surveyed more than 3,000 IT decision-makers and global enterprises to understand their data protection strategies for the next 12 months and beyond. The largest of its kind, this study examines how organizations are preparing for the IT challenges they face, including a huge growth in the use of cloud services and cloud-native infrastructure, as well as the expanding cyber-attack landscape and the steps they are taking to implement a Modern Data Protection strategy that ensures business continuity.

“Data growth over the past two years [since the pandemic] has more than doubled, in no small part to how we have embraced remote working and cloud-based services and so forth,” said Anand Eswaran, Chief Executive Officer at Veeam. “As data volumes have exploded, so too have the risks associated with data protection; ransomware being a prime example. This research shows that organizations recognize these challenges and are investing heavily, often due to having fallen short in delivering the protection users need. Businesses are losing ground as modernization of ‘production’ platforms is outpacing their modernization of ‘protection’ methods and strategies. Data volumes and platform diversity will continue to rise, and the cyber-threat landscape will expand. So, CXOs must invest in a strategy that plugs the gaps they already have and keeps pace with rising data protection demands.”

Regional Perspective
According to the study, 80% of UAE organizations and 82% of Saudi organizations have a protection gap between how much data they can afford to lose after an outage and how frequently data is backed up. In addition, 80% of UAE organizations and 76% of Saudi organizations have an availability gap between their expected SLAs and how quickly they can return to productivity. Moreover, 98% of UAE organizations and 97% of Saudi organizations experienced unexpected outages within the last 12 months. On average, 17% of UAE organizations’ and 18% of Saudi organizations’ data is left completely unprotected.

“The UAE and Saudi (the two biggest IT markets in the Middle East) findings of the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 largely mimics the global results, which find that the gap between business expectations and IT delivery, when it comes to data protection, continues to widen and has never been worse. As the proportion of applications that organizations consider mission-critical increases, so too does the volume and variety of cybersecurity threats. Entire industries face a data protection emergency and businesses across the world are looking for ways to accelerate their strategies to protect data, remediate cyber-attacks and recover from systems outages,” said Claude Schuck, Regional Director, the Middle East at Veeam Software.

When it comes to ransomware, 86% of UAE organizations and 84% of Saudi organizations suffered ransomware attacks, making cyber-attacks one of the single biggest causes of downtime for the second consecutive year. Per attack, organizations in UAE were unable to recover 34% of their lost data on average, while Saudi organizations were unable to recover 37% of their lost data on average. Furthermore, 81% of UAE organizations and 81% of Saudi organizations were unable to recover at least some of the data they had lost.

“To be fully transformative, Middle East enterprises need to be anchored with key technologies provided by virtualization, hybrid cloud, and Kubernetes. Companies who succeed in accelerating their adoption of a Modern Data Protection strategy will put in place solid foundations to gain a competitive advantage from digitization. It will enable them to experience the lower cost points and flexibility of the public cloud, leverage the security and proximity of the private cloud, and fast-track their development cycles by deploying Kubernetes, with the assurance that their data is protected across their entire infrastructure,” Schuck added.

Speaking about the impact of ransomware attacks on regional businesses, Schuck asserted that for Middle Eastern businesses to win the ransomware battle, they must possess the capability for education, implementation, and remediation. According to him, the best remedy for a security breach is prevention. “This can be improved through education of employees, ensuring that cyber-attackers are not being gifted access to the data and systems they need to initiate a ransomware attack. The next strategy is the implementation of offsite and offline backups to mitigate the effects of ransomware. Veeam advocates the 3-2-1-1-0 rule,” Schuck added. “There should always be at least three copies of important data, on at least two different types of media, with at least one off-site, one offline, with zero unverified backups or backups completing with errors. Finally, businesses need a plan for remediation. Do not pay the ransom. The only option is to restore data. Implementing a full Backup and Disaster Recovery plan gives organizations the ability to recover data in event of a ransomware attack, minimizing the risk of financial and reputational damage.”

When it comes to the need for modern data protection in the Middle East, 88% of UAE organizations and 86% of Saudi organizations plan to increase their data protection budgets during 2022 – spending an average of around 7% more than in 2021. “It is clear from the survey that businesses in the Middle East are investing more and taking steps to ensure that their organizations’ data protection strategy is fit for purpose given the continual increase in data criticality and constantly evolving threat landscape. To provide a strong foundation for Digital Transformation, IT leaders must implement robust Modern Data Protection strategies at the lowest possible cost. The “new normal” for modern IT is approximately 50/50 between on-premises servers and cloud-hosted servers,” added Schuck.

In addition, 52% of UAE organizations’ data infrastructure is currently located in the data center, with 48% now hosted in the cloud. 49% of Saudi organizations’ data infrastructure is currently located in the data center, with 51% now hosted in the cloud. Furthermore, 69% of UAE organizations and 76% of Saudi Arabian organizations are already running containers in production, while 29% and 22% respectively plan to do so in the next 12 months.

As such, an optimal and future-proof data protection strategy needs to accommodate physical, virtual, and multiple cloud-hosted or cloud-native options. It should give businesses confidence that their data is protected and always available across all production platforms. Through a single backup and data management platform for cloud, virtual, physical, SaaS and Kubernetes, Modern Data Protection enables organizations to modernize backup and recovery, secure data against ransomware, and improve application performance.  All of which lead to improved business efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” concluded Schuck.

The data protection gap is widening
Respondents stated that their data protection capabilities cannot keep pace with the demands of the business, with 89% reporting a gap between how much data they can afford to lose after an outage versus how frequently data is backed up. This has risen by 13% in the past 12 months, indicating that while data continues to grow in volume and importance, so do the challenges in protecting it to a satisfactory level. The key driver behind this is that the data protection challenges facing businesses are immense and increasingly diverse.

For the second year in a row, cyberattacks have been the single biggest cause of downtime, with 76% of organizations reporting at least one ransomware event in the past 12 months. Not only is the frequency of these events alarming, so is their potency. Per attack, organizations were unable to recover 36% of their lost data, proving that data protection strategies are currently failing to help businesses prevent, remediate and recover from ransomware attacks.

“As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated and even more difficult to prevent, backup and recovery solutions are essential foundations of any organization’s Modern Data Protection strategy,” said Danny Allan, CTO at Veeam. “For peace of mind, organizations need 100% certainty that backups are being completed within the allocated window and restorations deliver within required SLAs. The best way to ensure data is protected and recoverable in the event of a ransomware attack is to partner with a third-party specialist and invest in an automated and orchestrated solution that protects the myriad data center and cloud-based production platforms that organizations of all sizes rely on today.”

Businesses face a data protection emergency
To close the gap between data protection capabilities and this growing threat landscape, organizations will spend around 6% more annually on data protection than broader IT investments. While this will only go some way to reversing the trend of data protection needs outpacing the ability to execute, it is positive to see CXOs acknowledge the urgent need for Modern Data Protection.

As the cloud continues its trajectory to becoming the dominant data platform, 67% of organizations already use cloud services as part of their data protection strategy, while 56% now run containers in production or plan to in the next 12 months. Platform diversity will expand during 2022, with the balance between data center (52%) and cloud servers (48%) continuing to close. This is one reason 21% of organizations rated the ability to protect cloud-hosted workloads as the most important buying factor for enterprise data protection in 2022 and 39% believe IaaS/SaaS capabilities to be the definitive attribute of Modern Data Protection.

“The power of hybrid IT architectures is driving both production and protection strategies through cloud-storage and Disaster Recovery utilizing cloud-hosted infrastructure,” concluded Allan. “The benefits of investing in Modern Data Protection go beyond providing peace of mind, ensuring business continuity and maintaining customer confidence. To balance expenditure against strategic digital initiatives, IT leaders must implement robust solutions at the lowest possible cost.”

Other key findings from the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 include:

  • Businesses have an availability gap: 90% of respondents confirmed they have an availability gap between their expected SLAs and how quickly they can return to productivity. This has risen by 10% since 2021.
  • Data remains unprotected: Despite backup being a fundamental part of any data protection strategy, 18% of global organizations’ data is not backed up — therefore, completely unprotected.
  • Human error is far too common: Technical failures are the most frequent cause of downtime with an average of 53% of respondents experiencing outages across infrastructure/networking, server hardware and software. 46% of respondents experienced cases of administrator configuration error, while 49% were hindered by accidental deletion, overwriting of data or corruption caused by users.
  • Protecting remote workers: Only 25% of organizations utilize orchestrated workflows to reconnect resources during a disaster, while 45% run predefined scripts to reconnect resources running remotely in the event of downtime and 29% manually reconfigure user connectivity.
  • Economic drivers remain critical: When asked about the most important factors when purchasing an enterprise data solution, 25% of IT leaders are motivated by improving the economics of their solution.

Cyber Security

Group-IB Unveils Unified Risk Platform

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Group-IB has today unveiled the Unified Risk Platform, an ecosystem of solutions that understands each organization’s threat profile and tailors defenses against them in real-time. Every product and service in Group-IB’s now consolidated security suite is enriched with information from a Single Data Lake, which contains 60 types of sources of adversary intelligence. The Unified Risk Platform automatically configures your Group-IB defenses with the precise insights needed to provide the best possible defense against targeted attacks on the infrastructure and endpoints, breaches, fraud, brand, and IP abuse.

“At the heart of the Unified Risk Platform is a Single Data Lake that has the most complete and detailed insight into threat actors. Group-IB has collected the industry’s broadest range of adversary intelligence, with 60 types of sources across 15 categories,” the company said in a statement.

The data is gathered by and exclusive to Group-IB, providing customers with unprecedented visibility of threat actors’ operations. The raw data is enriched with context, converted into actionable intelligence, and added to Group-IB’s Single Data Lake. The patented technology is continuously refined by state-of-the-art research, science, and modeling conducted by Group-IB’s dedicated analyst teams spanning 11 cybersecurity disciplines.

The modular architecture of the Unified Risk Platform allows additional capabilities to be easily activated, providing increased protection from cybercrime without friction. A range of out-of-the-box integrations and flexible APIs enable the Unified Risk Platform to easily enhance any existing security ecosystem. When organisations need specialist support, Group-IB’s comprehensive suite of services is available for any purpose, from one-off red teaming exercises or incident response to in-life managed detection and response.

In addition to the services, every Group-IB product is powered by the platform to provide complete coverage of the Cyber Response Chain:

  • Group-IB Threat Intelligence provides deep insight into adversary behaviors. Threat Intelligence was independently evaluated as creating a 10% increase in team efficiency over alternative vendors and in a case study generated a 339% return on investment.
  • Group-IB Managed XDR enables organizations to respond 20% faster to threats according to an analyst study.
  • Group-IB Digital Risk Protection allows organizations to reduce the risk of brand abuse, piracy, data leaks, and more with best-in-breed protection. Group-IB has been benchmarked as detecting pirated content in 30 min on average and taking down 80% of the content within 7 days.
  • Fraud Protection was calculated by consultants to reduce the rate of false-positive fraud cases by 20% and enable 10% to 20% more fraud attempts to be detected and prevented. Furthermore, Group-IB identified 30% more one-time password fraud.
  • Attack Surface Management continuously discovers external assets to identify shadow IT, forgotten infrastructure, misconfigurations, and other hidden risks. As part of the Unified Risk Platform, the solution provides a threat actor’s view of the attack surface so that weak spots can be quickly and proactively strengthened.
  • Business Email Protection defends corporate email from sophisticated attacks. The solution monitors for indicators of compromise identifies malicious behavioral markers and extracts artifacts to identify risky emails before they reach their destination.
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Cyber Security

Gartner Unveils the Top Eight Cybersecurity Predictions for 2022-23

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Executive performance evaluations will be increasingly linked to the ability to manage cyber risk; almost one-third of nations will regulate ransomware response within the next three years; and security platform consolidation will help organizations thrive in hostile environments, according to the top cybersecurity predictions revealed by Gartner, Inc. today.

In the opening keynote at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit in Sydney, Richard Addiscott, Senior Director Analyst, and Rob McMillan, Managing Vice President at Gartner discussed the top predictions prepared by Gartner cybersecurity experts to help security and risk management leaders be successful in the digital era.

“We can’t fall into old habits and try to treat everything the same as we did in the past,” said Addiscott. “Most security and risk leaders now recognize that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, our philosophy, our program, and our architecture.” Gartner recommends that cybersecurity leaders build the following strategic planning assumptions into their security strategies for the next two years.

Through 2023, government regulations requiring organizations to provide consumer privacy rights will cover 5 billion citizens and more than 70% of global GDP. As of 2021, almost 3 billion individuals had access to consumer privacy rights across 50 countries, and privacy regulation continues to expand. Gartner recommends that organizations track subject rights request metrics, including cost per request and time to fulfill, to identify inefficiencies and justify accelerated automation.

By 2025, 80% of enterprises will adopt a strategy to unify web, cloud services, and private application access from a single vendor’s SSE platform. With a hybrid workforce and data everywhere accessible by everything, vendors are offering an integrated security service edge (SSE) solution to deliver consistent and simple web, private access, and SaaS application security. Single-vendor solutions provide significant operational efficiency and security effectiveness compared with best-of-breed solutions, including tighter integration, fewer consoles to use, and fewer locations where data must be decrypted, inspected, and re-encrypted.

60% of organizations will embrace Zero Trust as a starting point for security by 2025. More than half will fail to realize the benefits. The term zero trust is now prevalent in security vendor marketing and in security guidance from governments. As a mindset — replacing implicit trust with identity- and context-based risk-appropriate trust — it is extremely powerful. However, as zero trust is both a security principle and an organizational vision, it requires a cultural shift and clear communication that ties it to business outcomes to achieve the benefits.

By 2025, 60% of organizations will use cybersecurity risk as a primary determinant in conducting third-party transactions and business engagements. Cyberattacks related to third parties are increasing. However, only 23% of security and risk leaders monitor third parties in real-time for cybersecurity exposure, according to Gartner data. As a result of consumer concerns and interest from regulators, Gartner believes organizations will start to mandate cybersecurity risk as a significant determinant when conducting business with third parties, ranging from simple monitoring of a critical technology supplier to complex due diligence for mergers and acquisitions.

By 2025, 30% of nation-states will pass legislation that regulates ransomware payments, fines, and negotiations, up from less than 1% in 2021. Modern ransomware gangs now steal data as well as encrypt it. The decision to pay the ransom or not is a business-level decision, not a security one. Gartner recommends engaging a professional incident response team as well as law enforcement and any regulatory body before negotiating.

By 2025, threat actors will have weaponized operational technology environments successfully to cause human casualties. Attacks on OT – hardware and software that monitors or controls equipment, assets, and processes – have become more common and more disruptive. In operational environments, security and risk management leaders should be more concerned about real-world hazards to humans and the environment, rather than information theft, according to Gartner.

By 2025, 70% of CEOs will mandate a culture of organizational resilience to survive coinciding threats from cybercrime, severe weather events, civil unrest, and political instabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inability of traditional business continuity management planning to support the organization’s response to a large-scale disruption. With continued disruption likely, Gartner recommends that risk leaders recognize organizational resilience as a strategic imperative and build an organization-wide resilience strategy that also engages staff, stakeholders, customers, and suppliers.

By 2026, 50% of C-level executives will have performance requirements related to risk built into their employment contracts. Most boards now regard cybersecurity as a business risk rather than solely a technical IT problem, according to a recent Gartner survey. As a result, Gartner expects to see a shift in formal accountability for the treatment of cyber risks from the security leader to senior business leaders.

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Cyber Security

The Conti Enterprise: Ransomware Gang that Published Data Belonging to 850 Companies

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Group-IB has today presented its findings of ARMattack, one of the shortest yet most successful campaigns by the Russian-speaking ransomware gang Conti. In slightly more than a month, the notorious ransomware collective compromised more than 40 companies worldwide. The fastest attack took only three days according to Group-IB’s report “CONTI ARMADA: ARMATTACK CAMPAIGN”. In two years, the ransomware operators attacked more than 850 victims including corporations, government agencies, and even a whole country. The research dives deep into the history and major milestones of one of the most aggressive and organized ransomware operations.

Conti is considered one of the most successful ransomware groups. The gang’s existence first came to light in February 2020, when malicious files with the extension “.сonti” appeared on the radar of Group-IB researchers. However, the initial test versions of the malware date back to November 2019. Since 2020, Conti has been dominating the ransomware scene alongside Maze and Egregor in terms of the number of companies whose data has been encrypted.

In 2020, Conti published data belonging to 173 victims on their dedicated leak site (DLS). By the end of 2021, Conti came out on top as one of the largest and most aggressive groups, having published data belonging to 530 companies on its DLS. In just four months in 2022, the group posted information belonging to 156 companies, making for a total of 859 DLS victims in two years, including 46 in April 2022. The actual number of victims is believed to be significantly higher.

Conti and their affiliates attack often and quickly. Group-IB experts analyzed one of the group’s lightning-fast and most productive campaigns, codenamed “ARMattack”. The campaign lasted only about a month (from November 17 to December 20, 2021), but it turned out to be extremely effective. The attackers compromised more than 40 organizations worldwide. Most attacks were carried out in the US (37%), but the campaign also surged through Europe, with victims in Germany (3%), Switzerland (2%), the Netherlands, Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Denmark (1% each). The group also attacked organizations in the UAE (2%) and India (1%).

Historically, the top five industries most frequently targeted by Conti are manufacturing (14%), real estate (11.1%), logistics (8.2%), professional services (7.1%), and trade (5.5%). After gaining access to a company’s infrastructure, the threat actors exfiltrate specific documents (most often to determine what organization they are dealing with) and look for files containing passwords (both plaintext and encrypted). Lastly, after acquiring all the necessary privileges and gaining access to all the devices they are interested in, the hackers deploy ransomware to all the devices and run it.

According to the Group-IB Threat Intelligence team, the gang’s fastest attack was carried out in exactly three days, from initial access to data encryption. Group-IB for the first time analyzed Conti’s “working hours”. Most likely, the group members are located in different time zones; however, the schedule shows their high efficiency: on average, Conti “works” 14 hours a day without holidays (except for “New Year holidays”) and weekends. The group starts working closer to noon (GMT+3) and its activity declines only after 9:00 PM.

The geography of Conti’s attacks is vast but does not include Russia. The group clearly adheres to the unspoken rule among Russian-speaking cybercriminals: do not attack Russian companies. Most attacks occur in the United States (58.4%), followed by Canada (7%), the United Kingdom (6.6%), Germany (5.8%), France (3.9%), and Italy (3.1%).

Another reason behind not targeting Russian companies is that key Conti members refer to themselves as “patriots”. This fact was the cause of an “internal conflict” in the group in February 2022, which resulted in some of Conti’s valuable information being leaked online. The published data included private chat logs, the servers they use, a list of victims, and details of Bitcoin wallets, which stored over 65,000 BTC in total. The leaked chats revealed that the group had faced serious financial difficulties and that their boss had gone off the radar. Yet its members were fully prepared to restart the project after 2 to 3 months.

Despite the “stab in the back” and increased attention from law enforcement, Conti’s appetites continued to increase. They attacked not only large companies, but entire countries as well. Conti’s “cyber war” against Costa Rica in April 2022 led to a state of emergency being declared. Conti has worked closely with other ransomware operators such as Ryuk, Netwalker, LockBit, and Maze. They even tested Maze’s ransomware, reverse-engineered it, and thereby significantly improved their own. An analysis of the ARMattack campaign revealed that the group’s arsenal included not only previously described Windows tools, but also Linux ransomware: Conti and Hive.

That said, the group tends to create unique tools without reusing code snippets. This way, when compared, the code for their tools will not help identify common patterns. Before the chat logs were leaked, cybersecurity researchers could only assume that some RaaS (Ransomware-as-a-service) affiliate programs were in fact Conti divisions. At the same time, the interaction was extensive. Sometimes Conti used network access from other initial access brokers, other times the gang shared their own access for a modest 20% of the revenue.

Just like a legitimate IT business, Conti has its own HR, R&D, and OSINT departments. There are team leads, regular salary payments, and an incentive program. One of Conti’s distinctive features is using new vulnerabilities, which helps the group gain initial access. For instance, Conti was seen exploiting the recent CVE-2021-44228, CVE-2021-45046 and CVE-2021-45105 vulnerabilities in the log4j module.

Less than a week later, Conti exploited these vulnerabilities to attack vCenter servers. The leaked chat logs also showed that the group monitors fresh vulnerabilities carefully. One of the tasks from Conti’s CEO to the technical team was to monitor Windows updates and analyze changes made with new patches — which once again highlights the need to install updates as soon as possible. In addition, the Conti crew includes specialists with experience in discovering zero-days.

“Conti’s increased activity and the data leak suggest that ransomware is no longer a game between average malware developers, but an illicit RaaS industry that gives jobs to hundreds of cybercriminals worldwide with various specializations,” says Ivan Pisarev, Head of Dynamic Malware Analysis Team at Group-IB’s Threat Intelligence department. “In this industry, Conti is a notorious player that has in fact created an “IT company” whose goal is to extort large sums. It is difficult to predict what will happen to Conti in the future: whether it will continue working after a large-scale rebranding or be divided into smaller sub-projects. It is clear, however, that the group will continue its operations, either on its own or with the help of its “subsidiary” projects.”

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