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What is Good Cloud Migration Security?



Written by Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, Vice President, Global Field CISO at Fortinet

Cloud adoption continues to be important for many organizations as they transform how they do business in today’s digital world. While there are many benefits associated with cloud adoption, the security implications of moving to the cloud cannot be ignored if organizations are to fully embrace it.

What is Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration is the process of transferring an organization’s data and apps from on-premises servers to a cloud infrastructure. A cloud infrastructure enables organizations to access data storage requirements and computing capabilities when they are needed.

Rather than creating on-premises IT infrastructures or leasing data-center space, organizations can rent cloud infrastructure and their required computing capabilities via third-party providers. This can mean cost savings to an organization’s operating budget due to lower spending on energy bills, IT personnel, hardware, servers, and software that are needed for a physical data center.

Other key benefits of cloud migration are agility and flexibility. Cloud infrastructures are highly agile and flexible because they are self-managed and allow users to spin up new services and make changes in a matter of minutes. This permits organizations to be more focused on business and bottom-line issues rather than being bogged down in IT matters.

Cloud platform and infrastructure works through an abstraction process, such as virtualization. The goal is to separate resources from the physical hardware they are typically installed on and put them into the cloud. These virtual resources are provisioned into cloud environments using tools like automation and management software, enabling users to access the resources when they need them from wherever they are working.

Three Types of Cloud Architecture
When we talk about cloud infrastructure, we’re referring to the tools that are used to build a cloud environment. When we talk about cloud architecture, we’re referring to the design or blueprint of specifically how the various technologies for creating a cloud computing environment will be connected. There are three types of cloud architecture:

  1. Public
  2. Private

Public cloud architecture uses third-party cloud providers to make cloud resources available to multiple customers via the internet. These providers operate multi-tenant environments that lower the cost of data storage and computing power for customers. Public clouds can have a drawback: privacy issues for organizations that handle sensitive data or personally identifiable information (PII).

In a private cloud architecture approach, cloud infrastructure is only accessed by the organization. The private cloud architecture can be built, developed, and maintained by a company’s own IT teams or delivered by external providers. Private clouds as their name imply address the drawback of the public cloud issue with privacy.

hybrid cloud model is considered the best of both public and private architectures. The hybrid approach allows private and public cloud infrastructures to interact within a connected but separate system. This is ideal for organizations that handle sensitive information and PII, allowing them to store their critical data in private clouds and while keeping less sensitive data in public clouds. With a hybrid cloud architecture, organizations can maintain their private environments while accessing all the benefits of public cloud services for other computing tasks and storage.

Three Types of Cloud Migration
There are three main types of cloud migration:

  1. On-premises to the cloud
  2. Cloud-to-cloud migration
  3. Reverse cloud migration.

When moving data that is being hosted by on-premises servers to the cloud, you will be typically using a technique that’s called “lift and shift.” This is the transfer (or “rehosting”) of an exact copy of your current environment without making extensive changes.

This is the fastest and simplest way for an organization to start taking advantage of the cloud. As for moving data between clouds, say public and private ones, it will be done most likely because you want to keep it more secure. On the rare occasion where data becomes no longer important or obsolete, a reverse cloud migration may be employed to free up space and archive it on a local storage device.

To save time and expenses, cloud migration experts recommend some procedural tasks be performed before migrating data. The tasks include doing an audit and deciding what data and applications to retire and what ones to retain and migrate to the cloud.

What Are The Security Risks That Come With Cloud Migration?
There are several security-related challenges that organizations must overcome in the process, including compliance breaches and malware. Because the cloud is ever-evolving, some vendors will handle the changes well and some won’t. If a cloud provider goes out of business or has a dramatic overhaul, any enterprise using its services might be exposed to risk because of the upheaval.

Another cloud migration risk involves its reliance on the internet, meaning “any cloud solution is only as solid or reliable as the network connection it is built on.” It’s difficult for an enterprise and its users to accept downtime when apps and services aren’t accessible. Cloud infrastructures must have dependable connections and networks that are supported by service level agreements (SLAs).

A cloud migration security strategy must also consider that data controls are transferred from the organization to a cloud service provider. For the strategy to be effective, there must get buy-in from enterprise leaders. They need to accept the trade-off of getting cloud computing benefits while having less or limited control over access to applications, data, and any server-based tools.

Recently, a cloud survey showed some of the concerns about cloud migration from IT leaders mentioning a lack of visibility, high cost, lack of control, and lack of security as the biggest unforeseen factors that slow or stop cloud adoption.

Best Practices For Creating A Cloud Migration Security Strategy
The key components of a strong cloud migration security strategy, should include:

  • Enabling access control
    • Cloud migration security solutions need to offer access control across the cloud infrastructures, enabling them to secure applications and provide access management and connectivity between data centers and the cloud.
  • Applying automation to avoid misconfigurations
    • A viable strategy for cloud migration has to incorporate security with continuous evaluation of configurations across regions and public cloud types while dynamically analyzing activity in the public cloud infrastructure to identify potentially malicious activities. Organizations should look for highly accurate and automatic solutions powered by on-device machine learning capabilities, as well as the flexibility of form factors from containers to virtual machines to SaaS.
  • Prioritizing visibility across the cloud environment
    • Organizations need a single-pane-of-glass to gain visibility and enforce consistent security policies throughout the entire cloud infrastructure to effectively manage risk. Cloud migration security solutions need to provide visibility across the cloud infrastructures, allowing administrators to see both inline security, as well as cloud configuration security to build a comprehensive view of risk.
  • Establishing who is responsible for what
    • Assigning responsibility to the cloud migration tasks is necessary for keeping the procedure secure.
  • Protecting connectivity
    • Cloud strategies are only as successful as the networking and security that connect and protect the cloud computing – whether private, public or hybrid.  As organizations deploy cloud infrastructures and shift toward multi-cloud, secure connectivity across these various environments is critical to delivering better user experience and business outcomes.
    • Networking, security and computing all have to work together, so consider how to optimize access and security from the outset, and not as an afterthought to cloud adoption.

Cyber Security

New Hacktivism Model Trends Worldwide



Check Point Research (CPR) outlines a new model of hacktivism now trending worldwide. Five characteristics mark today’s form of hacktivism, according to researchers: political ideology, leadership hierarchy, formal recruiting, advanced tools, and public relations. CPR gives the hacktivist group Killnet an example of the latest model, detailing its attacks by country and attack timeline. CPR warns that hacktivism that originates in conflict-related geographies has the potential to scale worldwide.

  • Before, hacktivism was mostly focused on a few individuals carrying small-scale DDoS and defacement attacks
  • Now, hacktivism is better organized, structured, and sophisticated
  • CPR believes the new model of hacktivism began in conflict areas in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and proliferated to other areas during 2022

Check Point Research outlines a new model of hacktivism now trending worldwide. The hacktivism of the new model is better organized, structured and sophisticated, compared to the past. Hacktivist groups no longer consist of a few random individuals who carry out small DDoS or defacement attacks on low-tier websites. These are coordinated organizations with distinct characteristics previously unseen.

Key Characteristics:

  • Consistent political ideology (manifestos and/or sets of rules)
  • Hierarchy of leadership (Smaller groups relay attack orders to “commanders)
  • Formal recruitment process (Based on minimum requirements)
  • Tools that the groups provide to their members (Advanced tools for notoriety)
  • Robust public relations functions (Presences on major websites)

Why now?
CPR suspects the shift in the hacktivism model began roughly two years ago, with several hacktivist groups like Hackers of Savior, Black Shadow, and Moses Staff that focused exclusively on attacking Israel. CPR believes the Russian-Ukrainian war has proliferated the new model of hacktivism significantly. For example, The IT Army of Ukraine was publicly mobilized by the Ukrainian government to attack Russia. The new hacktivism also saw groups that supported the Russian geopolitical narrative, with groups like Killnet, Xaknet, From Russia with Love (FRwL), NoName057(16), and more.

Case Study: Killnet, from East to West
In April of this year, the group completely shifted its focus to support Russian geopolitical interests all over the world. The group claimed to have executed more than 550 attacks, between late February and September. Only 45 of them were against Ukraine, less than 10% of the total number of attacks.

  1. March: the group executed a DDoS attack on Bradley International Airport in Connecticut (US)
  2. April: websites belonging to the Romanian Government, such as the Ministry of Defense, Border Police, National Railway Transport Company and a commercial bank, were rendered unreachable for several hours.
  3. May: massive DDOS attacks were executed against two major EU countries, Germany and Italy
  4. June: Two very significant waves of attacks were executed against Lithuania and Norway in response to severe geopolitical developments between those countries and Russia
  5. July: Killnet focused their efforts on Poland and caused several government websites to be unavailable.
  6. August: Cyber-attacks were deployed on Latvia, Estonia and USA institutions
  7. September: the group targeted Asia for the first time and focused its efforts on Japan, due to Japan’s support for Ukraine

Sergey Shykevich, Threat Intelligence Group Manager at Check Point Software, said, “Hacktivism now has a whole new meaning. Before, the term meant a few random folks launching small DDoS attacks. Hacktivism is no longer just about social groups with fluid agendas. Now, hacktivism is better organized, structured and more sophisticated. I believe everything changed within the past year, especially with the start of the Ukraine-Russia war.”

“There are some key characteristics that mark the new model of hacktivism, including a consistent political ideology, a clear hierarchy of leadership, formal recruiting processes, sophisticated tool set, and robust PR capabilities. Though the change began in specific conflict-related geographical regions, it has now spread west and even further. Major corporations and governments in Europe and the US are being heavily targeted by this emerging type of hacktivism. All this allows the new hacktivism groups to be mobilized to governmental narratives and achieve strategic and broad-based goals with higher success levels – and much wider public impact – than ever before,” he said.

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Expert Speak

The All-Seeing Eye: Why Data Privacy is More Important Than Ever



In this day and age, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can confidently say their data is completely secure. The sad truth is, very little of our personal data is safe from prying eyes, and this is something more and more people are becoming aware of.

For instance, you’ve probably had an experience where you looked something up on the internet and then got assaulted by targeted advertisements for the very thing you were looking up. How does this work, though?

The answer is cookies. These crumbs of data that are stored on your device are what enable websites to track your activity.

Initially, websites weren’t even required to inform you when installing cookies on your device. The landmark General Data Protection Regulation, passed by the EU and implemented in May 2018, made it mandatory for websites to be transparent about their data collection and purpose, resulting in those notifications you get asking you to accept or reject cookies when you go to a website.

Cookies, however, are just a drop in the ocean when talking about data privacy. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, describes the right to privacy as a basic human right, but the truth is most big tech corporations simply don’t care. Their argument is that we’ve already consented to their data policies. But, let’s be honest here—no one really reads through license agreements, do they?

They’re extremely drawn out and use complicated legal and technical jargon, and this plays into the hands of these corporations. They also argue that no one is being compelled to use their software and that we can always use an alternative if we’re unhappy with their policies, but that’s a moot point. No one should be expected to forfeit their privacy to use a product.

The data collected about an individual’s browsing habits can also be used to create a profile for advertising purposes, but this leads to yet another issue—not a single company, including today’s big tech companies, can say its data is completely safe. Data breaches still happen and compromise the personal data of millions, yet most companies simply view these breaches as ordinary setbacks.

The good news is more people are talking about data privacy, and some have even deleted their social media accounts. Whether this will impact how big tech views and handles our personal data, however, remains to be seen.

We at ManageEngine take data privacy very seriously and have done so before it became fashionable, politically correct, or legally binding to take such a position. We ask for only the least amount of information necessary, gathering only what we believe is essential for doing business or for the specific transaction at hand. In fact, we completely disable non-essential and intrusive third-party cookies from all our websites and products. You can even disable all cookies completely to prevent your browser from sending us any information.

To learn more about our privacy policy, click here.

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It’s Surprisingly Common for Criminals to Impersonate Your Brand and Customers Often Pay the Price



Written by Werno Gevers, Regional Director of Mimecast Middle East

Cybersecurity experts are urging companies in the Middle East to take bold steps to protect against online brand impersonation attacks that could trick customers and employees into sharing sensitive personal information – or even passwords and banking logins. Werno Gevers, cybersecurity expert at Mimecast, says cybercriminals are increasingly hijacking trusted brands to launch cyberattacks from lookalike web and email domains to increase their chances at successfully duping their victims – and many companies are not keeping pace.

“A lack of technology and appropriate security policies can leave the door open to criminals using trusted brands to trick customers, partners, suppliers and the brand’s employees,” says Gevers. “Deploying online brand protection tools can help companies identify and take down malicious websites impersonating their web and email domains before customers fall victim. This should be supported by a robust regime of frequent and ongoing cyber awareness training to equip every employee with the knowledge to spot and avoid risky behaviour.”

In a survey conducted by Mimecast in 2021, 75% of consumers in the Saudi Arabia and 78% of consumers in the UAE said they’d stop spending money with their favourite brand if they fell victim to a phishing attack involving that brand. Compared to a global average of 57%, this places the region’s consumers among the most unforgiving of all markets surveyed. More than 80% of consumers in the region also believe it is the brand’s responsibility to protect itself from email impersonation, with a similar percentage saying it is the brand’s responsibility to protect itself from fake versions of its website.

Despite the risks, Mimecast’s latest State of Email Security 2022 report found that as much as 42% of organisations in Saudi Arabia and 38% in UAE were only somewhat prepared – or not prepared at all – to deal with attacks that spoof their email domains. This potentially leaves the door open to threat actors subverting trusted brands to trick consumers or employees into divulging information that could later be used in sophisticated social engineering attacks, or even to breach organisational defences.

Gevers says employees that receive suspicious email communication on their work email address should report it to their security teams immediately. “Security teams can use this information to contain the threat and protect the rest of the organisation. Security teams have tools and technologies that can protect people outside the organisation too, which can help keep threats from spreading to the company’s customers and partners. It is essential that dangerous communication is reported to security teams, as it helps improve the organisation’s security and resilience against attack.”

According to Gevers, there are some tell-tale signs that the person you’re speaking to may be a scammer, including:

  1. Receiving unsolicited communication from someone or some company that you aren’t expecting
  2. Messages that contain unbelievable offers, spelling errors or a sense of urgency
  3. Mails sent from webmail accounts, for example
  4. Mails containing redirects to login pages that have suspiciously long URLs
  5. Being asked for PIN numbers or login details

“If you see one or more of the above signs, stop immediately and verify the request by contacting the organisation who is purportedly reaching out to you. Don’t rely on the number provided in the communication: if the email claims it’s from your bank, for example, rather phone the bank on their main number and check the validity of the communication. Don’t ever share your login details, don’t make payments with cryptocurrencies, and don’t click on links unless you know they can be trusted.”

Despite a company or consumer’s best efforts, there is still a possibility that cybercriminals could successfully trick someone into sharing personal information that the criminal may use later to commit further fraud or breach organisational defences. If this is the case, Gevers advises that the victim take immediate steps to limit the potential damage.

“Firstly, change all your social media, email, and banking passwords. If an email communication was sent to you by a scammer, report it to your security team so they are aware of it. No one likes to fall victim to cybercrime but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Being honest and swift can potentially prevent other people from falling victim too.”

He adds that any such cases should be reported to the relevant authorities so that law enforcement may investigate and, hopefully, find and prosecute the perpetrators. “Countries across the Middle East have acknowledged the dangers cybercrime poses to their citizens, businesses, and critical infrastructure, and are taking steps to strengthen law enforcement capabilities to combat the scourge of cybercrime.”

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