Centrality of Cyber Security in the Educational Sector

Over the last few years, the education sector has become a new favorite target among cyber criminals. From turbulent ransomware attacks to covert data breaches, numerous academic institutions have suffered from various kinds of cyber attacks in recent times.

The introduction and adoption of newer technologies along with the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have fueled the situation further. Cyber criminals are attacking educational institutions with tactics and tools that have worked effectively against businesses.

Why has the Education Sector Become a Lucrative Target?

Why Cybersecurity Needs To Be a Priority for The Education Sector

According to an article by CSO Online, the education sector accounted for 13% of all data breaches in the first half of 2017, which resulted in the compromise of approximately 32 million records!


Here are the major reasons for the popularity of the education sector as a target among cyber criminals:

1. Financial Gain: According to research, educational records are worth up to $265 on the black market. The notion of such huge financial gain is more than enough for threat actors to target academic institutions.

2. Valuable Data: Even though educational institutions may not look as lucrative as healthcare companies or private businesses, they serve as a treasure trove of sensitive financial and personal information including valuable proprietary research data.

3. Espionage: Espionage is another reason for cyber criminals to target the education sector. Higher education institutes such as universities and colleges often serve as centers for research and possess valuable intellectual property.

4. Impacting Operations: Several attacks on academic institutions have been carried out with the motive of causing widespread disruption and adversely affecting the institute’s productivity.

Major Cyber Security Threats to the Education Sector

The Top 5 Cybersecurity Threats to Schools (And How You Combat Them) - Enterprise Training Solutions Blog

A wide range of cyber threats has been plaguing the education sector for years. Here are the top threats hounding educational institutions around the globe:


1. Spear phishing Attacks: Using spear phishing, cyber criminals have taken hold of several academic institutions, resulting in catastrophic losses. An article by Business Line reported that more than 1000 colleges, schools and universities were targeted by various spear-phishing campaigns in Q3 2020.


2. BEC Attacks: Threat actors have also resorted to BEC attacks for targeting organizations in the education sector. The same article by Business Line also reported that Gmail accounts serve as the primary medium for launching the majority of BEC attacks, accounting for 86% of all BEC attacks on academic institutions.


3. Ransomware: As per the FBI, schools have become the most popular targets for ransomware attacks. A number of colleges, schools and universities have been hit by vicious ransomware attacks, leading to devastating consequences.

4. DDoS Attacks: DDoS attacks or Distributed Denial of Service attacks are very common in the education sector. These attacks offer an easy way for cyber criminals to disrupt operations, especially if the network of the target organization is poorly protected.


5. Data Breaches: Since academic institutes hold a huge cache of valuable information, data breaches have always been common in the education sector.

Recent Cyber Attacks on the Education Sector

As mentioned above, many educational institutions worldwide have been hit by cyber attacks in recent years. Here are some major cyber attacks witnessed by the education sector over the last couple of years.


1. In March 2021, the London-based Harris Federation suffered a ransomware attack and was forced to “temporarily” disable the devices and email systems of all the 50 secondary and primary academies it manages. This resulted in over 37,000 students being unable to access their coursework and correspondence.

Sophisticated Ransomware Attack leaves 36,000 Students without Email

2. The Division of Structural Biology at Oxford University fell victim to a cyber attack in February 2021. It was involved in extensive COVID-related research and access details for several of its systems were spotted online.

3. The University of Northampton was hit by a cyber attack in March 2021 that led to the disruption of its telephone and IT systems and servers.

4. The University of California, San Francisco paid a ransom of $1.14 million after the NetWalker ransomware locked down multiple servers of its School of Medicine in June 2020.

5. Birmingham college was hit by a ransomware attack and had to ask all of its 20,000 students to stay at home for a week. It had not even been two weeks since they had returned to the college following an extended lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All hell broke loose': How a cyber attack shut a college

How to Protect Educational Institutions Against Cyber Attacks?

Whether it is due to the lack of resources and budget or the absence of stringent security policies, academic institutions have been unable to protect themselves against cyber attacks in the past.


With a myriad of cyber security issues hounding the education sector, it is about time for these institutions to take the appropriate precautions and get ahead of threats. So, here are some effective measures you can take to shield an educational institution against cyber threats.


1. Implement a robust Identity Access Management (IAM) system to prevent anyone from obtaining unauthorized access to the network.

What is Identity Access Management? | Varonis

2. Conduct periodic Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) to detect and fix any exploitable vulnerabilities in your organization’s cyber security infrastructure.


3. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on all the applicable endpoints across the enterprise networks to add an extra layer of security to your organization’s cyber security framework.


4. Train all the employees in the basics of cyber security to generate awareness about various cyber threats and the best ways to deal with them.

5. Enforce cyber security best practices like a strong password policy. Make sure your employees are aware of the consequences of not following the practices and understand their responsibility in keeping the organization safe.


Cyber security in the education sector is essential for about a hundred reasons, the most important one of them being to ensure the safety and privacy of students. So, take the necessary measures now and keep your organizations protected against cyber threats.


Healthcare Cyber Security growing Paramountcy

Over the last year, the healthcare industry has become a target of strategic interest amongst cyber criminals. Owing to its troves of valuable data, healthcare has never been as vulnerable to cyber attacks as it is now. As per a report by HIPAA Journal, healthcare institutions reported 616 data breaches of 500 or more records in 2020. Moreover, the report also revealed that 28,756,445 healthcare records were exposed.The Role of Cybersecurity in Healthcare and Hospitals | Norwich University  Online

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, hackers rapidly evolved their tactics to exploit the fears escalating amongst the population. This has spurred the need to adopt cyber security best practices for keeping pace with evolving threats, especially in healthcare. Cyber criminals have reframed their phishing attempts to launch targeted cyber attacks by taking advantage of the COVID-19 fears.

Those working on the response have become prime targets. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research firms developing treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus are being targeted. Moreover, as per Becker’s Hospital Reviewdata breaches cost the healthcare industry nearly $5.6 billion every year.


Major Cyber Attacks on the Healthcare Industry in 2020

It’s widely believed that in 2021 the healthcare industry will continue to be the most targeted industry by cyber criminals. Here are some major cyber attacks targeting the healthcare industry in 2020:


  1. The year 2020 witnessed the first fatality due to a ransomware attack when a hospital in Germany was hit by a ransomware attack in September.
  2. The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reported that APT29 targeted COVID-19 vaccine development.
  3. The Universal Health Services (UHS) health system suffered a ransomware attack across its 400 locations in September.
  4. Data allegedly stolen from five different healthcare entities was posted for sale on the dark web by the hacking groups behind REvil, SunCrypt, NetWalker and Pysa or Mespinoza ransomware variants.
  5. UCSF paid a ransom of $1.14 million after the NetWalker ransomware affected multiple servers of its School of Medicine.
  6. In October 2020, DHS CISA issued a warning of an Emotet resurgence, problematic ransomware that has targeted 24% of the most prominent hospitals.


How to Protect Healthcare Institutions Against Vicious Cyber Attacks?

With the pandemic expected to continue into the foreseeable future, the healthcare industry is hounded by several cyber security issues. Cyber attacks on healthcare facilities can have consequences beyond breach of privacy and financial loss.


Therefore, it has become essential for these institutions to take the necessary precautions and get ahead of threats. Here are a few effective cyber security measures that can offer protection against the cyber threats plaguing the healthcare industry:


Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Implementation of MFA on all the applicable endpoints across the enterprise networks is an effective way to get rid of some of the most disastrous vulnerabilities. According to a report by Microsoft, enabling MFA can block over 99.9% of all automated account compromise attacks. With billions of stolen credentials for sale, it has become extremely important to adopt MFA as a basic security protocol. This applies not just to the healthcare industry but everywhere.


Vulnerability Management

Cyber criminals often exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure of their target organization to ensure the success of their attempt. Hence, it is imperative to make sure that all the security patches are updated regularly. Overlooking even a minuscule vulnerability in your organization’s security framework can have severe ramifications. Conducting periodic Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing can significantly help you keep your company’s IT infrastructure free from any weaknesses, mitigating the risk of suffering a cyber attack.


Generating Awareness

Educating your staff about cyber risks and the ways to mitigate them is one of the most effective ways of meeting the challenges posed by the current cyber threat landscape. If every individual on staff is vigilant enough, it will be difficult for the threat actors to find an opening for an attack. Organizations can use innovative cyber security awareness tools like ThreatCop to train employees in the art of avoiding cyber attacks.


Backup Storage and Restoration

The best way to minimize damage caused by a cyber attack is to employ backup, offline storage and restoration. This standard security protocol is especially effective against ransomware attacks. If you are unable to prevent a cyber attack from hitting its mark in the first place, it is essential to have a plan. The next best course of action is to ensure that you have a reliable offline storage and restoration option.


To summarize, cyber security in healthcare is not just about protecting an organization but also protecting those they serve. Consequently, it is extremely important for healthcare providers to enforce strict security policies and keep evolving them according to the changing cyber threat landscape.


Vitality of Cyber Security

Familiarising With The Term Cyber Security 

Key cyber security trends to look out for in 2021 - Information Age

You must have heard of the word cyber security, making headlines in the news, internet, social media, IT forums, etc. However, has it ever occurred to you that what is cyber security or why does the security administrator of your organization keep on talking about the importance of cyber security?

Fundamentally, cyber security is the body of technology, process, and practice, designed to protect systems, networks, programs, and data from cyber risks like cyber attacks, damage, or unauthorized access. It is also referred to as information technology security. With cyber attacks evolving today as a danger to organizations, employees and customers, cyber security plays a very crucial role in prevention against such security threats.

As we have entered into this new decade, we can already see new challenges arising in cyber security since day one! It is no surprise to see that cyber security is constantly on a rise and there is a lot in store for the near future. Today, companies have become more technologically reliant than ever and the trend doesn’t seem to stop. Rather, it looks like this technological reliance will keep evolving in the long term.

Almost every organization nowadays, uses cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive to store their confidential data and sensitive information. If not taken proper online security measures, this data present online can easily be exploited by cyber criminals.

Why is Cyber Security Important for Companies Today? 

The Importance and Scope of Cyber Security

Often some organizations take their data security lightly and as a result, they fall victim to cyber attacks. In fact, our companies are still not immune to these evolving cyber attacks. But thanks to these fast-developing technology standards today, cyber security has become a priority for every organization across the world.

Think you are secure online? Think again!

It is a serious matter of how cyber attacks are shaping in every form possible in order to stay one step ahead of the development in technology. Phishing, ransomware, cyber scams are some of the common yet highly dangerous cyber attacks that are designed with the motive to access and exploit the user’s sensitive data and extort money out of it.

Here are some more major reasons to understand why cyber security is important for companies:

  • Rise of Cyber Crimes

Be it a large scale or a small scale firm, hackers and cyber criminals spare no one. Rather, they lookout for opportunities to exploit data and get money out of these firms. Over the past year, the average cost of cyber crime for an organization has increased 23% more than last year—US$11.7 million, according to the report. Also, the average number of security breaches has risen significantly and it is now $3.86 million, as per the report. With the introduction of new technologies, the chances of cyber threats and risks are also rapidly increasing. Cyber criminals have advanced their attempts of deploying cyber attacks with the evolution of technology.

  • Growth of IoT Devices

With the mission to create smart cities with smart devices, our dependency to connect everything to the internet has increased too. The introduction of IoT technology i.e. Internet of Things, has not only simplified and speed up our tasks but has also created a pit of new vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit. No matter how advanced security measures we take,  cyber criminals will always stay one step ahead to attempt cyber crimes. If these internet-connected devices are not managed properly then they can provide a gateway to business to hackers or cyber criminals!

  • Bridge to Security Gap

Human resources and IT resources have always been one of the most important aspects of any organization. Regardless of their dependency on each other, there has always been a security gap between both aspects. In order to bridge this gap, it is important to provide individuals working in an organization with the right cyber security awareness training. Training for employees is necessary to bridge the gap of cyber security skills and to create a cyber-resilient working culture in the organization.

  • Cost of Cyber Risks 

Cyber attacks today are not only multiplying in numbers but are also multiplying in the cost of damage created. These cyber attacks can prove to be extremely expensive for any organization to endure if not taken proper security measures. With more business infrastructures connecting, it is predicted, cyber crime to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, says the report. Besides, it is not just the financial damage that could cost but also the reputation of the firm along with loss of customer trust in the business.

  • Security of Data

When it comes to data security, it can be clearly seen how organizations are getting highly comfortable in keeping their information online. With the alarming number of data breaches and information leaks making news headlines almost every day, it can be seen how vulnerable the data left is online. Moreover, cyber attack vectors such as ransomware, phishing, cyber scams, risk of removable media, etc. leave no room for data exploitation and publicizing of any vulnerable data. Implementation of the right cyber security solutions is a must to avoid any future cyber risks related to the sensitive data of an organization.

How to Cyber Secure Your Organization in 2021?

The Importance of Cyber Security in Schools - Complete IT

Are you here to look for the best defensive system for your organization to combat cyber attacks? Well, the only thing that is important for your organization in 2021 is a strong cyber security system along with the best cyber defense practices to reduce the cyber threat posture of your organization.

Solely relying on anti-virus software will not stop cyber criminals from accessing your business. But educating employees in making smart cyber defensive choices can definitely reduce the chances of cyber risks!

Moreover, it doesn’t require a specialist to teach employees about cyber defense and cyber security awareness. There are advanced technology-based tools available today to help and guide employees in recognizing and combating cyber threats before they infiltrate networks and systems.

The web and network attackers are constantly striving to undermine the security system of the company’s IT infrastructure today with the intention of stealing the confidential data. Thus, making it more challenging for organizations to stay cyber secure.

Organizations are required to equip themselves to prepare for tight security measures and best cyber security solutions like security risk assessment tools, anti-phishing, and fraud monitoring tools to look for vulnerabilities and to track your brand online. Always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

All you need to know about the risk of Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking has provided cybercriminals with a new means of filling their pockets at the expense of organizations around the world. And the worst part? Your company may already be a victim of cryptojacking and you might not even know it!


What is Cryptojacking?


Cryptojacking refers to the unauthorized use of someone’s computer for mining cryptocurrency. As cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways of attacking businesses, cryptojacking has become one of the most rapidly growing cyber attack vectors globally.


Instead of holding your company data for ransom or stealing it, threat actors can tap into your organization’s computing power for mining cryptocurrency. The theft of your organization’s computing power through cryptojacking can have tangible financial consequences.


It can lead to the potential degradation in service, loss of income and productivity, higher cloud usage or energy consumption, frequent replacement of hardware and system performance issues.


How does Cryptojacking Work?


Cryptojackers trick victims into clicking on a malicious link that loads cryptomining code on their computer. Alternatively, they can infect an online ad or website with JavaScript code that executes automatically once it is loaded in the victim’s browser.


However they do it, the cryptomining code works silently in the background while the unwary victims continue to use their computers normally. Hackers often use both these methods to maximize their return.


Unlike the other kinds of malware, cryptojacking does not damage the computers or their data. It steals CPU processing resources. Individual users may find slower computer performance just a little annoying, however, organizations with several cryptojacked computers can suffer severe financial losses.


How Prevalent has Cryptojacking been in 2020?


  • Varonis discovered the Monero cryptojacking malware while investigating a company that was secretly plagued by cryptojacking for over a year. This was one of the biggest recent cryptojacking attacks.
  • As per CSO Online, 90% of all remote code execution attacks are linked to cryptomining.
  • According to a report by Digital Shadows, cryptojacking kits are being sold for as little as $30 on the dark web.
  • According to a report by arXiv, cryptojacking is responsible for 4.32% of all Monero in circulation.
  • As per a report by ENISA, 2020 witnessed a 30% year-on-year increase in cryptojacking the month of March.

How to Detect Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is one of the stealthiest and most difficult-to-detect cyber attack vectors. It can not only have an adverse impact on your entire business operation but can also make it difficult for you to identify which of the systems have been compromised if any.

So, here are a few major things you should keep your eye out for:


Deteriorating System Performance

A decrease in the performance of your computing devices like laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices is the first symptom of cryptojacking. Instruct your employees to immediately report any fluctuation in their system’s performance to IT.

Quick Overheating

Mining for cryptocurrencies is a resource-intensive process, which can cause your computing devices to rapidly overheat, resulting in system damage. A problem may be indicated if the fans of your systems are running longer than they normally do to cool down the system.

Increasing CPU Usage

Regularly monitor and analyse the CPU usage of your systems. If you spot an unreasonable increase, it may be a sign that cryptomining scripts are running on your system without your knowledge.

Undo Changes on Webpages

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for websites where they can insert a cryptomining code. Frequently monitor your own websites to look for any changes to the webpages or the files on the web server.


How to Mitigate the Risk of Cryptojacking?


It is extremely difficult to detect if and when your computer systems have been compromised by cryptojacking. However, you can take some basic preventative measures to protect your systems and networking systems against this threat. Here are some effective tips to prevent cryptojacking:


  • Train Your Organization’s IT Team

Make sure your IT team is satisfactorily trained to detect and understand cryptojacking. It should be aware and vigilant enough to catch the earliest signs of an attack and should be ready to take immediate steps to get the situation under control.

  • Implement Anti-Cryptomining Extensions

Implement one of the many available browser extensions for blocking the cryptominers across the web.

  • Disable JavaScript

Disable JavaScript while browsing online to prevent the cryptojacking code from infecting your system.

  • Use Ad Blockers

Cryptomining scripts can be often found embedded in web ads. Use an ad blocker to detect and block any malicious cryptomining codes.

  • Educate Your Employees

The IT team is not solely responsible for securing the organization against cyber threats. Each of your employees should know what to look out for. Provide your employees with basic cybersecurity awareness training to make them understand the importance of following security protocols set by the IT team.

Instruct your employees to immediately notify IT if their systems are overheating or running slowly. They should also know about the risks involved with clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from untrustworthy sources.

Employee Attraction towards Cyber Attacks

With the rapid development in technology and ever-increasing internet users, cyber security plays a critical role in every industry. Securing the IT infrastructure in an enterprise helps in maintaining smooth workflow and consistent business operations.

In recent times, cyber crimes have become extremely sophisticated and threat actors have come up with new ways to obtain access to an organization’s systems and sensitive information. All throughout 2020, everyone was battling to overcome the onslaught of challenges brought by the pandemic.


However, cyber criminals saw an opportunity and wholeheartedly exploited the panic and chaos caused by the pandemic to fill their own pockets. And these criminals took no time to launch back to back cyber attacks during the pandemic.

Which of Your Employees Are Most Likely to Expose Your Company to a Cyberattack?


These threat actors left no stone unturned to target the vulnerable companies that weren’t prepared to support a remote workforce securely. As a number of well-established companies became victims to various cyber attacks, 2020 witnessed several security incidents making the headlines.


Since companies are not willing to compromise with the health of their employees, remote working is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. But the question is, how do companies survive the fight against cyber crime and secure their employees while overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19?


Cyber Risks and Lack of Security Awareness Among Employees

Often organizations focus on upgrading the hardware and technologies to stay protected against cyber threats. In doing so, organizations spend millions of dollars on the latest security patches and upgrades. But just like our computers, humans store, process, and transfer information too.


Yet, if you compare the amount of time and money an organization spends on securing its computers and other electronic devices to the resources it focuses on securing its employees, you’ll see how huge the difference is!


Organizations typically invest a lot in installing antivirus and spyware software as well as upgrading the operating systems, applications, and browsers. Additionally, every company has help desks, support teams, and security technical teams to maintain all this software and hardware. But how much does an organization spend on securing employees? Very less.


Cyber security has become a massive issue in both private and government institutions. Looking into the core of the issue, it is not really about the technology or the systems. Technology and systems have become increasingly secure over the years.


Employees are the actual issue. Even though it is unintentional, most cyber attacks are caused by human error, whether it is a careless click on an unsolicited link or an innocent downloading of a corrupted file.


How to Fix these Cyber Security Loopholes? 

hacker attack every 39 seconds-min - Cybint

It may sound controversial, but the security teams are the last line of defense within an organization. Even though these teams face many cyber security challenges, it is the employees who form the first line of defense.


According to a report by IBM Security, human error is the main cause of 24% of all data breaches.


Therefore, it is imperative for every organization to train the employees to be aware of the prevalent cyber threats. This does not mean that organizations should implement such heavy security measures that will just create chaos and difficulties for the employees.


Rather, every organization should come up with a solution that makes the day jobs as easy as possible for the employees while making their IT infrastructure as secure as possible.


Here are some effective measures you can take to secure your organization:


  • Discover:  Start looking from a risk management perspective. Find out if there are any flaws in the organization’s cyber security framework. Conduct services like VAPT to discover and identify the loopholes within your organization’s network and IT infrastructure.


  • Practice healthy cyber hygiene: Implement basic cyber security protocols. Enforce a strong password policy, enabling multi-factor authentication for verification, using secure Wi-Fi, encrypting sensitive data, and regularly updating the systems with the latest security patches.


  • Lookout for malicious links: Think carefully before clicking on a link or downloading an attachment from an unknown source. An email can sometimes be from a threat actor impersonating a trusted individual. To protect yourself against malicious actors impersonating your email domain, set up tools like KDMARC and defend your domain against forgery.
  • Set up a firewall: As the name suggests, a firewall is a wall between the computer and the internet. It acts as the gatekeeper for all incoming and outgoing network traffic. Setting up a firewall protects the internal networks of your business against cyber threats.
  • Update on the latest risks: Keep up with the latest cyber hacks and threats news. It helps your organization stay up-to-date with the latest cyber security-related news. It also provides you with the cyber security preventive measures that your organization can adopt to avoid becoming a victim.
  • Train Employees: Educate employees to recognize social engineering attacks such as phishing, vishing, smishing, etc. To be more aware of the cyber threats evolving around the world and how to react when needs arise.


The Ultimate Solution to Make Employees Cyber Secure

Lack of Cyber Skills Holding Back the Growth of Small Businesses

There are several steps an organization can take to protect itself against cyber threats. However, it all comes down to how strong is your organization’s first line of defense – the employees. It has become essential for organizations to provide cyber security awareness training to their employees.


You can opt to educate your employees with tools that offers the most effective security awareness training materials. The tool generates awareness amongst employees about the common cyber threats wreaking havoc around the world.


Why Organizations should conduct cybersecurity assessments

Information Security Audit and Self – Assessment Frameworks for operators of essential services and digital service providers — ENISA

The past year was filled with news about cybersecurity, including phishing scams, ransomware, and new attack methods. And this year, security experts again predict even bigger attacks and smarter hacks that will be met with heavy fines slapped on regulated organizations for not preventing or minimizing a breach on their watch.

Adhering to compliance standards and finding gaps in data security is a multi-faceted process that requires a holistic approach, expertise, and vigilance. If your organization hasn’t done a self-assessment of your cybersecurity and compliance processes, or done so recently, now is the time.

Research shows that more than 56 percent of organizations reported moderate or severe impact of security challenges on their cloud computing use. Even more, reported compliance and regulation challenges. For organizations that must meet regulatory standards—like HIPAA, PCI, SOC, ITAR, FIPS or CJIS—the disruption and consequences in the event of a breach can cost more than they are worth in fines, a tarnished reputation and remediation efforts.

After working with hundreds of organizations on their compliance and data security processes, I’d like to share five key benefits of a cybersecurity self-assessment.

A cybersecurity self-assessment can help your organization:

1. Measure security risks objectively across teams and roles

Risk and Performance Management. Risk measurement quickly raises… | by Ryan McGeehan | Medium

Even the most brilliant and passionate IT teams, partners and vendors can sometimes become myopic or defensive about their technology infrastructure and practices. And because most organizations have a variety of clouds, platforms and IT infrastructure, security exposures may not be discovered without an assessment, or worse, a traumatic event.  A self-assessment tool can offer an objective lens from which to have critical conversations across teams and roles.

2. Flag risks and exposures

74,273 Red Flag Warning Illustrations & Clip Art

From intrusion detection software to cybersecurity insurance, cybersecurity is a multi-faceted and ever-changing effort. Cybersecurity experts are in high demand, and many organizations face exposures for which they aren’t equipped to assess or internally manage. A self-assessment can be the starting point of identifying new and old areas of risk and can help you ask the right questions regarding protecting your organization.

3. Document and track security efforts

PDF & Document Security: How to Protect and Track PDFs and Documents Securely (2021)

In the world of cybersecurity, there are no guarantees that “digital trauma” won’t strike. That’s not the reality of today’s world. However, multiple layers of security processes can isolate issues in their tracks and prevent worst-case scenarios. In addition, a well-prepared organization should be able to quickly respond to multiple severity levels of security situations. Assessing your risk is the first step in developing cybersecurity and compliance efforts, documenting and training your organization around a security plan, as well as tracking progress toward remediation efforts.

4. Quickly adapt to regulatory changes

Digitally adapting to regulatory change - Risk.net

Regulations change, technology platforms evolve and teams adopt new devices, subscriptions and solutions. Your organization’s IT environment must continuously evolve to keep up with the reality of everyday business. What was a best practice a year ago may not be so today. Routine security risk assessments can help your organization stay proactive. And with the right cloud tools and controls, your organization can quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace.

5. Empower your users

Exposing a Phishing Email Attack – 5 Tips to Empower Your Users

Multiple experts cite the number one threat to cybersecurity is your colleague down the hall. The people in your organization have the most opportunity to expose your data, second to vendors with access to your systems. From proper management of user access and authentication to education around recognizing phishing emails, your users can make or break your security. Organization-wide education and preparedness are key to preventing, as well as responding, to a security event.

Where should new security tools be deployed initially for maximum impact?

10 ways to prevent computer security threats from insiders

You have your eye on a new piece of security technology or service and you want to evaluate it before deciding whether to commit to the effort of a full deployment. Alternatively, you may already be committed to full-scale deployment but wondering where to start. So where should you deploy it first to test it most effectively and have the greatest impact?

Human nature, caution and conventional wisdom dictate that you should put it in a lab environment or in a low-importance section of your network. That is sensible, isn’t it? The change board will give you less hassle and if there is a problem, you are going to get less flack, aren’t you?

How Can CRE Industry Ensure Data Security in a Lockdown? | Wealth Management

But will that approach give you most information and practical experience about the new system’s deployment difficulties, effectiveness in your environment and what it will detect? Will it give you the maximum protection as soon as possible?

Any tool that gives you fresh insight on the behavior of your systems tends to find something interesting. Those of us who have deployed such things have the stories to go with them – from mundane discoveries such as finding that all servers in one network had the wrong DNS settings and were thus being slowed down, to critical detections of previously unobserved persistent attackers.

What Is Network Security? - Cisco

However, there is an argument to be made for deploying this new tool on your production systems, close to your crown jewels. These are the things you really want to protect and the environment in which it really needs to work. Yes, this approach is higher risk, but it is also higher benefit. Will a deployment on a low throughput, obscure bit of network really tell you much? On the other hand, couldn’t one real detection on your primary systems during the evaluation period convince you and your management of the system’s value?

Granted, this may not be a sensible suggestion for inline systems that process all traffic, but with the right technology it can work. Many security technologies monitor traffic and provide alerts rather than enforce actions — or at least they have a mode in which they can act in this way. A new security solution deployed on a span port or network tap may actually pose more risk to production traffic in terms of confidentiality than in disruption or performance. It is also easy to turn off or detach such solutions by removing the span connection. Other security tools rely on collecting logs from your existing devices. Building an architecture that allows forking and diverting the streams of log events can support easy introduction of such types of new security tooling.

What is User and Entity Behavior Analytics? A Definition of UEBA, Benefits, How It Works, and More | Digital Guardian

As an example, consider the evaluation of a new security monitoring tool, perhaps one with user and entity behaviour analytics (UEBA). Will you get much information from deploying it on a test/staging environment that will typically have a small number of users and occasional traffic? Or would you get a better sense of its value from connecting it to your production active directory, primary applications and remote access system? Wouldn’t that give you a better idea of how easily it can be connected, how well it copes with actual production loads and whether it can really differentiate between normal and suspicious behaviour?

Designing taps such as those mentioned above into your network and log architectures future-proofs your environment, making it easier to evaluate other products down the road and deploy them into final production. It can also help in emergencies, as incident response teams wishing to deploy their tooling will be looking for very similar facilities overseeing your most critical systems.

So next time you have a new security system to test, think about ignoring conventional wisdom and throwing (some) caution to the wind. Sometimes the radical step is the right one. Deploying security tools on your crown jewels first may be the optimal approach.

In 2019, new cyber security threats are predicted to emerge.

11 Emerging Cybersecurity Trends in 2021 - Panda Security

Cyber security remains a major issue for all organisations and 2019 will continue to prove challenging. Expect to see more large-scale data breaches, new forms of malware and the continuing plague of ransomware attacks. In addition, we need to prepare for threats to Internet of Things devices and attacks on infrastructure, such as banking and payment systems and public transport. Perhaps more worrying than these are the unknown, emerging threats that are on the horizon. Here we’ll look at four you should be wary of.

AI versus AI attacks

Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning in Cybersecurity | Varonis

Artificial intelligence is being increasingly used by all manner of businesses and in a wide range of ways. Crucially, it is a key tool for cyber security firms which use AI models to find better ways to defend our systems.

Unfortunately, AI is also available to cybercriminals who now use it to counteract the work done by security companies. This is carried out using a generative adversarial network (GAN) which creates a situation where two neural networks compete against each other to discover the AI algorithms each is using. If the cybercriminals discover the algorithms being used by cyber security companies, it gives them a much better understanding of how to evade being detected.

Indeed, these increasingly sophisticated hackers can use AI and machine learning to infiltrate the data sets used by security companies, for example, injecting malicious code and modifying labels, so that threats can be re-identified as safe.

Fake media exploitation

Information Overload Helps Fake News Spread, and Social Media Knows It - Scientific American

Most people are now aware of the problem of phishing emails where criminals send fake messages to employees in the hope of conning them into giving away important data, access details or, in some cases, getting them to transfer money to the criminals’ accounts.

While many of us have learnt to spot the tell-tale signs of most fake emails, advances in artificial intelligence have now produced an entirely new and potentially much more difficult to spot threat – fake video and audio messages. Simply by analysing online images, video and voice recordings, AI-enhanced software is now able to create highly realistic video and audio that can fool even the most cautious of viewers. In the video below, you’ll see how this is done.

As you can see from the video, even the creator of this technology has concerns about how it can be used for malign reasons. Cybercriminals with access to it can deliberately spread misinformation that can have a devastating impact, for example, making statements purporting to be from a leading CEO that affects stock market volatility. Criminals can also use the technology to send fake video and audio messages to employees and customers that con them far more easily than a phishing email.

For now, this technology is difficult to use and expensive to own. However, it won’t take long before it’s available for use on the average laptop or even as a phone app. Luckily, as the video shows, there are efforts in place to develop technology that can detect these fake videos. For the time being, it is important to remain vigilant.

A quantum leap in encryption cracking

Quantum Leap: This tech will boost communication security | Hyderabad News - Times of India

Understanding the bizarre world of quantum physics is a challenge even for the most gifted of scientists. However, we are now at a stage where quantum computers are being developed that have the processing power far beyond that which we have ever been able to produce before.

With such potent technology, experts believe that cybercriminals with access to quantum computers would be able to crack the encryption we currently use to protect data. While it is possible to create even more secure encryption to combat this in the future, the problem lies with technology that is already in use. Products like TVs, vehicles and phones, together with many IoT devices, which are going to be around for quite a few years and which have today’s levels of encryption built in, may become far easier to hack in the future.

Smart contract hacks

Smart contract hacks cost millions — this company wants to fix it

Blockchain technology is increasingly used in business because it offers both transparency and the security brought by encryption. One way in which it is used is for smart contracts, where apps housed on blockchain automate processes when the right conditions are met, for example, carrying out financial transactions or delivering intellectual property.

While blockchain has a potentially very useful role to play, this relatively new technology still has issues. One of the concerns is that the inbuilt transparency of blockchain makes it difficult to keep smart contract data private. This vulnerability has already been exploited by cybercriminals who have used it to get their hands on large amounts of cryptocurrencies.


As you can see, in 2019, the new cyber security threats are far more sophisticated than ever before, using technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantum computers to launch their attacks. They are also finding new things to attack, such as the media, blockchain and even other AI models. With this in mind, 2019 is certainly a year to keep security threats as a priority in your organisation.

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