Security roundup: February 2019

We round up interesting research and reporting about security and privacy from around the web. This month: security as a global business risk, insured vs protected, a 12-step programme, subject access requests made real, French fine for Google, and an imperfect getaway.

Risks getting riskier

Some top ten lists are not the kind you want to appear on. Data theft and cyber attacks both featured in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019. Only threats relating to extreme weather, climate change and natural disasters ranked above both security risks.

The report is based on a survey which asked 1,000 decision makers to rate global risks by likelihood over a 10-year horizon. As ZDNet reports, 82 per cent of those surveyed believe there’s an increased risk of cyberattacks leading to the theft of money and data. Some 80 per cent believe there’s a greater risk of cyberattacks disrupting operations.

The report also refers to the increased risk of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, along with concerns about identity theft and decreasing privacy. The WEF’s overview includes a video of a panel discussing the risks, and the report itself is free to download.

Insuring against cyber attacks

Thinking of buying cyber risk insurance in the near future? The legal spat between Mondelez and Zurich might give pause to reconsider. The US food company sued its insurer for refusing to pay a $100 million claim for ransomware damages. NotPetya left Mondelez with 1,700 unusable servers and 24,000 permanently broken laptops. Zurich called this “a hostile or warlike action” by a government or foreign power which therefore excluded it from cover.

As InfoSecurity’s story suggests, Zurich might have been on safer ground by invoking a gross negligence clause instead, since Mondelez got hit not once but twice. And where does this leave victims? “Just because you have car insurance does not mean you won’t have a car crash. Just because you have cyber insurance does not mean you won’t have a breach,” said Brian Honan.

Lesley Carhart of Dragos Security said the case would have implications for cyber insurance sales and where CISOs spend money. “Not only is Zurich’s claim apparently that nation state adversaries can’t be insured against, but it adds the ever tenuous question of attribution to insurance claims,” she wrote.

The 12 steps to better cybersecurity

Somewhat under the radar, but no less welcome for that, Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre has published guidance on cybersecurity for Irish businesses. It’s a high-level document that takes the form of a 12-step guide. It’s written in non-technical language, clearly intended for a wide audience. The steps include tips like getting senior management support for a cybersecurity strategy. The full report is free to download from here. We’ve taken a deep dive into the contents and you can read our thoughts here.

Fight for your right to part…ake of your data

GDPR obliges companies to cough up the personal data they hold about us on request, but what does that mean in practice? Journalist Jon Porter exercised his right to a subject access request with Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Just under 138GB of raw data later, he discovered that little of the information was in a format he could easily understand. If some of the world’s biggest tech companies are struggling with this challenge, what does that say for everyone else? It’s a fascinating story, available here.

Google grapples French fine

And speaking of all things GDPR-related, France’s data protection regulator CNIL has hit Google with a €50 million fine for violating the regulation. The CNIL claims Google didn’t make its data collection policies transparent enough and didn’t obtain sufficient, specific consent for personalising ads.

As Brian Honan wrote in the SANS Institute newsletter: “While the €50 million fine is the item grabbing the headlines, the key issue here is the finding by CNIL of the unlawfulness of Google’s approach to gathering people’s personal data. This will have bigger implications for Google, and many other organisations, in how they ensure they legally gather and use people’s personal data in line with the GDPR.”

You can run, but you can’t hide

Here’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of oversharing personal data on smart devices. UK police collared a hitman for an unsolved murder after data from his GPS watch linked him to scouting expeditions of the crime scene. Runners World covered the story and the Liverpool Echo published CCTV footage of an alleged recon trip near the victim’s home.

It’s an extreme example maybe, but the story shows how heavy our digital footprints can be (running shoes or not). Social media sharing can also be a security risk for a company’s remote workers. Trend Micro’s Bob McArdle outlined this very subject in his excellent Irisscon 2018 presentation. Social engineering expert Lisa Forte tweeted that she can gather intel about target companies from what their employees post online.

Things we liked

Protector, puzzle master, moral crusader, change agent: the many faces of a CISO. MORE

And another thing: want to be a good security leader? Learn to tell a good story first. MORE

Making the contentious case that breaches can be a good thing, and aren’t automatically bad for business. MORE

Google Chrome, used by almost two-thirds of web browsers, has a new plugin that warns users when entering a username/password combination that’s been detected in a data breach. MORE

An offer you couldn’t retweet: meeting the godfather of fake news. MORE

The Council to Secure the Digital Economy (CSDE) has published a guide to help protect the Internet from botnets. The International Anti-Botnet Guide will be updated every year. MORE

ENISA has released a study of CSIRTs and incident response capabilities in Europe to 2025. MORE

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