Security newsround: October 2018

We round up interesting research and reporting about security developments from around the web. This month: data breaches are up (again), help with hacks, incident response, attacks on trust providers and a numbers game.

Breach over troubled water

More than 4.5 billion data records were compromised in the first half of 2018. That’s a 133 per cent increase from last year and a staggering 1,751 per cent up on the first half of 2015. And if those stats aren’t scary enough, try this one: the total number of breached records equates to 291 every second, on average.

The findings come from Gemalto’s 2018 Breach Level Index. The company also found that the average records per incident is growing at an alarming rate. In 2015, the average was 276,936 records; by this year, the average stands at 4.8 million records per incident. The arrival of GDPR has cast a fresh spotlight on the risk of data breaches.

Common hacks and how to stop them

A new report throws the spotlight on commonly used hacking tools and ways of stopping them. The report is a joint collaboration between the cybersecurity authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. The report gives an overview of tools that attackers are known to have used in recent incidents. They give the ability to plant backdoors or exfiltrate data, gain remote admin control of web servers or move laterally in compromised networks.

“The intel is designed to give enterprises a better awareness of what they’re up against so they are better positioned to prepare defences,” The Register reported. The report is for network and systems administrators, and anyone involved in incident response. It’s available free here.

Best practice incident response

Stuck for ideas to develop an incident response plan? The cybersecurity unit at the US Department of Justice might be able to help. It has updated its guide to best practice for victim response and reporting cyber incidents. The 25-page document includes sections covering pre- and post-event actions, as well as advice on what not to do. Also included: threat education for senior management, plus advice on engaging with law enforcement and with incident response specialist firms. It’s available to download at this link.

Breakdown of trust

ENISA has published its first full-year annual report about significant security incidents at trust service providers in the EU. The document covers all of the incidents during 2017 involving services that make electronic transactions more secure, like digital signatures and certificates, or electronic seals and timestamps. The report found that half of the security incidents rated as ‘severe’ and a similar number had impact across borders. The most affected services were e-signatures and e-seals. System failures and third-party failures were the most common root causes, each with 36 per cent. The report summary is here and the full report is free to download here.

Security’s search for meaningful metrics

Better security starts with knowing what you need to defend against; data beats anecdotes every time. The problem is, cybersecurity metrics suffer from inconsistency. An article in Defense One reports that NATO member governments have different ways of counting what constitutes a cyber attack. That’s a problem, says the article’s author Stefan Soesanto. “Without published standards and discernable metrics … warnings are of no real value to the public. We simply do not know whether 6,000 annual attacks against NATO’s infrastructure is a lot or whether any of the 24,000 attacks against the French MoD were serious.”

John Pescatore of SANS Institute compared this to the retail sector, which uses revenue loss from shrinkage as a more reliable figure than the number of attempted thefts. “That is why reports looking at actual damage like the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report and Microsoft’s Security Intelligence report [well, parts of it], are much more useful than the numerous ‘billions and billions of attacks are being observed’ reports,” he wrote.

Better security through privacy audits?

Here’s one interesting fact to emerge from the news that Google was finally killing off Google+. (Not counting the fact that Google+ still existed, surprising many of us who assumed it disappeared years ago). Up to 500,000 Google+ user accounts were potentially at risk of exposing their data to external developers. Here’s the kicker: Google reportedly discovered the exposure during GDPR and privacy checks as part of its Project Strobe initiative.

Some reports led with Google’s decision not to disclose the flaw because the company feared it would lead to closer regulatory scrutiny. But would this have actually happened? Stripe’s Tommy Collison noted that although the data was exposed, it’s not technically a breach since Google claims no-one has misused the information.

Things we liked

ISACA has introduced a new programme to help people to acquire and prove skills in auditing cybersecurity processes, policies and tools. MORE

Why return on investment calculations might not tell the whole story when it comes to cybersecurity investments. MORE

Brian Krebs interviews Tony Sager, former NSA bug hunter and now VP at the Center for Internet Security about a very timely subject: supply chain security. MORE

Finland’s data protection authority has some great guides for data subjects, including this English-language document about how to make a subject access request. MORE

A new Irish initiative aims to put 5,000 people to work in the field of cybersecurity over the next three years by upskilling them. MORE

IBM launched a free cybersecurity learning resource aimed at girls, called ‘’Securing the Internet of Things’. MORE

 

 

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