United States: Recent Trends, Future Predictions, And Effective Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are a fundamental part of any organization's risk management process. But many organizations still do not incorporate true risk assessments into their information-security planning, even though doing so makes good business sense and is required by many standards and regulatory frameworks (the HIPAA Security Rule, PCI-DSS, and the NY Department of Financial Services Cybersecurity Requirements all require risk assessments, to name just a few). If you're not incorporating a true risk assessment into your security program, 2018 is a good year to start. A properly completed risk assessment will help your organization understand and mitigate its most critical risk scenarios, and will prepare your organization to respond favorably to regulator inquiries during an audit or after a security incident at a time when regulatory scrutiny is likely to increase.

If you have completed a recent risk assessment, remember that an assessment is not a point-in-time compliance exercise. Rather, it's a continuous process of reflection and improvement to help your organization stay ahead of evolving threats and vulnerabilities. In that spirit, the start of the new year is a good time to think about how recent trends and predictions for 2018 might affect your organization's risk assessment. As you review the trends and predictions below, consider these questions: How does our organization address these issues today? How will we address them in our next (or first) risk assessment? And do the trends reflect a significant change in attacker activity or other assessment factors that should prompt us to rethink and update our organization's most recent assessment?

To help answer these questions, I've included with each item some considerations that might affect your organization's identification of threats, vulnerabilities, likelihood, and impact—the basic elements of any risk assessment. On to the trends:

  • Increase in widespread destructive attacks and collateral damage. The 2014 Sony hack raised awareness of destructive cyber attacks, and we saw more destructive attacks in 2017. The NotPetya attack, for example, wiped and disabled systems around the globe, causing widespread outages in major industries. This attack, and WannaCry before it, exposed deficiencies in many organizations' vulnerability management programs and demonstrated the need to consider vulnerabilities in both external and internal systems. The attacks also exposed deficiencies in some organizations' disaster recovery plans. Data recovery from secure backups is a part of disaster recovery and business continuity, but so is the ability to failover hardware and networks to back up systems (or quickly restore the hardware and networks to a known good state) in the event that more than just data is lost. Finally, these attacks remind us we need to think more broadly about attacker targeting—many organizations affected by these attacks were not specifically targeted, but were instead collateral damage in an attack that spread like wildfire across insecure systems on the internet.

    • Assessment considerations:

      • Does our vulnerability management program evaluate vulnerabilities on both external and internal systems?
      • Have we scoped our vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to give an accurate picture of potential risk, or have we scoped these projects down to where they are creating a false sense of security?
      • Does our organization have a program in place to identify and remediate vulnerable systems within an appropriate window of time? Have we taken steps to automate our vulnerability program and make it continuous?
      • Are we prepared to recover data and infrastructure lost or disabled from a catastrophic natural disaster, environmental event, or malicious attack?
      • Have we properly assessed the likelihood that a catastrophic event will affect our organization as collateral damage in a sophisticated or widespread attack?
  • Organizations of all sizes in the crosshairs. Although high-profile breaches such as those at Uber and Yahoo dominated this year's media coverage, we've also seen smaller organizations affected by significant incidents. In the retail and hospitality industry, expect increased attacks on smaller and mid-sized businesses running insecure systems as their larger counterparts implement EMV (chip-and-pin or chip-and-signature), point-to-point encryption, and tokenization solutions. And partly because of the EMV rollout, which limits an attacker's ability to use stolen card data for card-present fraud, expect e-commerce attacks to increase against merchants of all sizes (for both card theft and stolen-card use). Likewise, the proliferation of business-email compromises—whether at businesses' on-premise service or Office 365 accounts—will continue with attackers targeting small and medium-sized businesses running insecure email systems. The compromised email systems and networks will be sold on the black market and fuel a range of frauds, from real-estate wire fraud and internal wire fraud to W-2 theft, tax scams, and other novel frauds.

    • Assessment considerations:

      • Has our organization properly assessed the likelihood it will be targeted by an opportunistic attacker? Do we recognize that our company's relative size or obscurity does not protect us from exposure on the internet?
      • For retail organizations, have we tried to limit the impact of an incident by implementing EMV (which doesn't prevent theft of sensitive data, but can limit an organization's exposure because of EMV safe-harbor programs in card network liability assessment rules)? Have we reduced the likelihood that an incident will occur (and reduced our compliance obligations) by implementing point-to-point encryption and tokenization systems? Have we segmented our payment card environments from the corporate environment and secured remote access through multi-factor authentication?
      • For retailers who have implemented segmentation and advanced protections such as point-to-point encryption, have we validated these controls are working as expected with appropriately scoped penetration tests or other validation tests? Or if the technology has not been rolled out to all locations (e.g., legacy systems, e-commerce servers), have we hardened those systems against attack?
      • For online retailers, have we hardened our web servers, ensured they are updated as part of a regular vulnerability management program, and protected our servers with network security tools such as a web-application firewall? If we develop our code internally, are the coders competent and using secure coding practices? Have we taken advantage of options to outsource our payment process to more secure third-party payment systems? Have we evaluated our fraud and chargeback controls recently to account for an increase in online, card-not-present fraud?
      • For all businesses, do we educate our employees about current trends in phishing attacks and frauds? Have we developed controls to limit critical transactions and protect the release of sensitive information (e.g., requiring accounts payable staff to validate email instructions to wire funds over a certain amount, or requests to send W-2 or employee information)?
      • Have we implemented basic controls, such as secure two-factor authentication, to protect remotely accessible resources such as our Exchange and Office 365 accounts and network access?
  • Continued increase in fileless malware attacks. We continue to see an increase in attacks that deploy fileless malware and rely on native system tools (e.g., PowerShell and Windows Management Instrumentation). These attacks evade traditional security controls such as antivirus because there are limited artifacts for the tools to detect. Although this trend has been present for several years, more tools now incorporate and simplify these attacks and our incident-response experience demonstrates their frequent use. Although defenses exist, they require upgrading systems, tools, and network security devices. For example, enhanced PowerShell monitoring is available in PowerShell version 5 and, to a lesser extent, patched versions of PowerShell 4. Fileless attacks will continue and organizations should evaluate their ability to detect and respond to these attacks.

    • Assessment considerations:

      • To limit the likelihood and impact of an attack, does our organization actively monitor and alert to suspicious activity that could indicate a fileless attack?
      • Has our organization deployed more than standard antivirus (which relies only on file signatures to detect malicious activity), including other advanced tools such as a Host Intrusion Detection System (HIDS) (which can identify malicious behaviors and activity without predetermined signatures)?
  • Cloud data leakage. 2017 was a year of unauthorized data exposure from misconfigured cloud storage services, with new reports sometimes arriving weekly. Although criminals exploited the misconfigurations in some cases, security researchers are hunting for and exposing many issues, making detection and disclosure more likely. In either case, these data incidents can damage a firm's reputation, reduce customer trust, trigger obligations to investigate and notify affected individuals, and invite regulatory inquiries. In response to these incidents, cloud providers and third parties rolled out significant new tools in 2017 to enhance monitoring, logging, and alerting to malicious activity in cloud environments, but many organizations are not aware of or not taking advantage of these tools. Regulators are taking note and will likely increase inquiries into unsecured cloud instances.

    • Assessment considerations:

      • Does our organization have a process to review and approve new cloud deployments to ensure that privacy and security impacts are being assessed?
      • Does our organization have personnel with training and experience to secure our cloud deployments?
      • Are we monitoring our cloud infrastructure, taking advantage of new monitoring tools, and retaining logs to support incident investigations?
      • Do we know whether the third parties we deal with are storing data in cloud environments, and have we evaluated the security of their operations?
      • Have we included our cloud environments and third parties in our risk assessments?
  • Indirect supply-chain attacks. We saw several high-profile examples in 2017 of indirect attacks facilitated by intrusions into software and hardware supply chains. Avast, maker of the popular privacy and data destruction software CCleaner, announced that an attacker compromised its software development process and installed a mysterious backdoor in the software distributed through legitimate channels to perhaps several hundred thousand systems (it appears that the second stage of malware was reserved for systems at only a handful of targeted companies—demonstrating, once again, how unsuspecting organizations can be caught up in sophisticated attacks even if not directly targeted). And the NotPetya attack appears to have been distributed through compromised E.Doc accounting software servers. Although less publicized, we also saw malware distribution through legitimate channels, including Google Play, and WordPress plugins. These attacks will likely continue by attackers looking for a way to distribute malware to many targets of opportunity, or to specific targets whose weak link is their supply chain.

    • Assessment considerations:

      • Does our organization have a policy and process to address use of personally owned devices?
      • Do we educate our users (and particularly developers) on the dangers of downloading unknown software and apps, or any software and apps from unconfirmed sources?
      • Do our software vendors and outsourced developers have an obligation to notify us if they discover an intrusion in their environment that might affect the integrity of the software we've purchased from them?
  • Increased regulatory scrutiny and calls for additional legislation. Following 2017's high-profile breaches, we should expect to see increased scrutiny from regulators throughout 2018 and additional calls for legislation. New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, for example, announced proposed legislation (the SHIELD Act) in November 2017, to add additional protections from data breaches. And on December 1, Florida Senator Bill Nelson introduced the proposed Data Security and Breach Notification Act, which would, among other things, require companies to report data breaches within 30 days (with exceptions to investigate and contain the breach), impose criminal penalties for knowingly concealing a data breach, and preempt state breach notification laws for entities covered by the legislation. In sum, regulators and lawmakers will expect increased transparency and be watching to ensure incidents are reported within a reasonable period of time. Organizations should ensure they have prepared the people and processes to meet these obligations.

    • Assessment considerations:

      • Do we have a realistic incident response plan in place? Have we tested the plan and do we update it regularly in response to changing circumstances?
      • Does our organization have monitoring, logging, and data retention in place to support a timely investigation in the event of a significant incident? Do we have similar capabilities for our data stored with third parties or in the cloud? Have we tested or evaluated these processes to ensure they will work in a real incident?

These trends highlight just some areas your organization should be evaluating in its risk assessment process. Please contact us if you would like to learn more, if we can help your organization evaluate the sufficiency of a prior assessment, or if you would like to work with us on developing a strong assessment and risk management program.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions