As if to cap off an already eventful National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, — and perhaps proving that there is no honor among thieves — a hacker breached a forum for hackers last week, and is ransoming fellow cyber-attackers’ user data for $50,000. And there certainly seems to be plenty of occasions to increase our awareness of cybersecurity issues.
About 1.9 billion data records got exposed in the 918 data breaches that occurred in the first half of 2017 — up 164 percent from the last half of 2016 — according to a digital security firm’s study. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning last week about the Bad Rabbit ransomware, which is disrupting government, hospital and other systems internationally. And cybersecurity researchers confirmed last week that an enormous botnet has already infected more than one million organizations — and is on the verge of unleashing “the next cyber-hurricane.”
It’s crucial that we learn from these attacks. And — just as some are using high-tech for cyberattacks — others are using blockchain, artificial intelligence and other cutting edge technology to improve cybersecurity.
Blockchain, AI and IoT to the Rescue
With so many cyberattacks targeting centralized services, blockchain’s decentralized technology offers cyber-defenses from many types of attacks, according to PC Magazine last week. Among the benefits are blockchain’s transparency and distributed nature, which eliminate the single failure points that many hackers prey upon. But …
“The best defense [organizations] have is the same thing that makes them such an appealing target for hackers: a mountain of data,” PC Magazine stated in a different story last week. “By using machine learning algorithms and other artificial intelligence techniques to identify data patterns, vulnerable user behaviors and predictive security trends, companies are mining and analyzing the wealth of data at their disposal to hopefully stop the next breach from happening.”
However, networks and Internet of Things sensors will still require cybersecurity technology, VentureBeat stated this month. Unsecured devices can be terrible liabilities, so organizations should earnestly evaluate the opportunities and vulnerabilities offered by AI and IoT — and ensure that all users are well trained.
Build a Tech-Savvy Phalanx
Technical savvy helps employees across the organization better understand their work environment and, as a result, operate more securely, according to SmartBrief last week. This will only get more important, as data analytics is increasingly crucial to business success — and as workflow automation continues to get cheaper.
And making rules isn’t enough. For example, in healthcare, HIPAA regulations require that organizations train their workers to maintain patient privacy — and punish those who violate policies and procedures. But employee security awareness is the top healthcare data security concern for 80 percent of health IT executives, according to a 2017 healthcare security study.
“Build a culture of cybersecurity among your executive and physician leaders,” Theresa Meadows, CHCIO, Senior VP and CIO of Cook Children’s Health Care System, stated last month. “Educate them about the threats, myths and importance of good cyber hygiene … they can champion the cause among their peers and staff and get them to buy into safety processes.”
Of course, cybersecurity cultures don’t sprout up overnight.
Learning Our Lessons
Chief information security officers face the increasingly difficult job of convincing their c-suites that cybersecurity expenditures are worth the big bucks, according to Government Computer News this month. CISOs can use their organizations wealth of data to frame cybersecurity in terms that managers and executives can understand, such as managing risk, business continuity and regulatory compliance.
In short, it’s about taking a step back and learning lessons from the big picture.
“We are so overwhelmed with present security concerns that we don’t have the ability to look into the future — or we hesitate to second guess what cybercriminals might end up doing,” IT Business Edge stated last week. “It’s up to us to recognize what we’ve seen in the past in order to rethink our security solutions of the future.”
And last week’s hacking of the hackers’ forum — as well as other events from this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month — have given us plenty of source material to learn from.