Shipping news: how to manage a ransomware attack
Disproving the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity, the shipping company Clarksons is doing its level best to limit the PR damage caused by a recent ransomware attack. They have so far done an admirable job, demonstrating that transparency is key in the early days of a breach.
Firstly, the world’s largest ship broker has admitted to the fact that the breach has taken place and that data is soon to be released. Secondly the company has clearly setting out the steps they are taking to minimise the potential damage. They have announced that they have taken immediate steps to manage the incident and are working with specialist police and data security experts. The initial investigation has shown that unauthorised access was gained via a single and isolated user account which has now been disabled.
At the moment, the exact extent of the data stolen is unknown but, having refused to pay a ransom to the hacker who carried out a criminal attack on the company’s computer systems, a large scale leakage of private data is to be expected.
In the short term, the company has been hit by the announcement. Shares in Clarksons fell by more than 2 per cent, despite the company’s insistence that the hack would not affect its ability to do business. In the longer term, however, their diligent and principled stance should stand them in good stead. Hiding a breach from the media and even more importantly, those who have potentially been affected, is much more damaging in the longer term. Consider Uber’s recent exposure for having tried to cover up a large scale breach.
Issues of cybersecurity are now at the forefront of most board agendas. The imminent enactment of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May is bringing the issue into even sharper focus. Under the terms of GDPR and the proposed UK Data Protection Bill, fines will be significantly higher if an organisation is considered to have been negligent in the event of a breach. Investments in providing support and resource to Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Data Protection Officers (DPOs) is now considered a cost-effective investment.
Yet in today’s digital and commercial landscape even the best-resourced companies will be prey to this type of criminal attack. The most important thing is to recognise this probability and ensure that a proactive approach is taken to both defence and, in the event of an attack, incident response.
A robust defence will include an expert scoping of the system which identifies gaps in compliance and security. This is likely to include advanced penetration testing as well as retained forensics. Having a cyber security specialist involved in the correct mapping and identification of data means that, in the event of an unforeseen attack, they have the knowledge and capability to minimise and mitigate the effect of the incident swiftly. As the Clarksons incident demonstrates, the ability to deploy an immediate response is an important element of damage limitation.
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What is the password?
By Gerard Thompson, Information Security Consultant
With over 3,500 MPs, lords and staff, being a computer security administrator in the Houses of Parliament must be a stressful job. They have a lot to think about. There is the possibility of state-sponsored brute force cyberattacks, much like the one that compromised 90 ministerial accounts in June 2016. There are also other, more delicate issues to be negotiated; like the fact that there were 113,208 attempts to access pornographic material within Westminster in 2016 alone. Yet in actual fact one of the most alarming revelations from the Houses of Parliament this month, has been the admission by a number of MPs that their passwords are far from secure.
Admittedly, the social media admissions by MPs that they shared log in details with staff were posted to help defend Damien Green who has recently been accused of accessing thousands of pornographic images on his House of Commons computer back in 2008. They wanted to make the point that it might not have been him, given the fact that others might have his password information. Yet, for information security professionals, these admissions were probably more shocking than the news story they were attempting to deflect.
One MP tweeted: ‘My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login every day. Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCNews just now to claim that the computer on Greens desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous!!’
The same MP went further that afternoon: ‘All my staff have my login details. A frequent shout when I manage to sit at my desk myself is, ‘what is the password?’’
Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity professionals on Twitter have been shocked by such admissions, with many pointing out that it demonstrates a severe lack of privacy and security understanding within Westminster. To the consternation of the information security industry, however, other MPs have proceeded to jump in, tweeting their own confessions. One such tweet said: ‘I often forget my password and have to ask my staff what it is.’
Another tweeted: ‘Less login sharing and more that I leave my machine unlocked so they can use it if needs be.’
With these admissions, it might be believed that the House of Commons does not have an Information Security policy. Of course it does. The House of Commons Staff Handbook has a specialised section on Information Security Responsibilities and the House of Commons Advice for Member and their staff specifically states that MPs should not share passwords. It is therefore more a question of awareness and training rather than policy. After all, the majority of breaches occur through user error so Westminster staff need to be reminded of their responsibilities.
Other government departments are exemplary in their information security procedures, providing best practice examples of how it should be done. With GDPR and the UK Data Protection Bill soon to be enacted, making the responsibilities of data holders even more stringent, the Houses of Parliament should also lead the way in demonstrating a robust stance on data defence.
SRM provides a complete range of information security services, from GDPR compliance to advanced penetration testing; from its Virtual CISO service to full blown Incident Response. To find out more, for a no-obligation discussion contact email@example.com or call 03450 21 21 51.
Law practices are prime targets for criminals
PWC’s 25th Annual Law Firms Survey found that 73 per cent of respondents had suffered a security incident in 2016. These ranged from insider threats to the phishing of login credentials and ransomware. Routinely keeping large amounts of extremely sensitive data on file for long periods of time, law firms need to be particularly vigilant. Yet awareness, training and a top-of-the range technology solutions will only go some way in providing a defence. Given the ingenuity of hackers, they are unlikely to be sufficient in the long term.
The good news is that the solution is not about buying lots of additional products or simply throwing money at the problem. A strategic approach will provide a more robust and more cost-effective solution. The effective scoping of the risks and vulnerabilities to which an individual firm is exposed means that defences are maximised using only precisely-targeted and relevant services.
When the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes effective in May 2018 the regulatory obligations of any organisation which holds data on EU citizens becomes even stricter. The new legislation will not just apply to those with European customers. The current UK Data Protection Bill, which is also due to be enacted in May, enshrines the principles of GDPR into UK law. In addition to new reporting requirements, there will be a greater emphasis on mapping data, knowing exactly what information is held and where.
A specialist consultancy has the experience and expertise to ensure that top level security is provided in the most cost-effective way possible. From advanced penetration testing to compliance and regulatory issues; from data mapping to ensuring there are no gaps anywhere in the system; it is important to have an overall strategic and correctly scoped plan.
While Data Protection Officers (DPOs) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) take on the day-to-day responsibility, every member of the board or partnership is also responsible for compliance. To ensure that the ever-changing cyber threat landscape is fully understood, additional support and resource is required. Just as a finance director receives support from accountants, a consultancy which operates at all levels of the cyber security spectrum will be able to provide additional expert guidance to DPOs, CISOs, boards and partners. The reputational and financial consequences of a breach can have devastating effect on the whole firm. Board or partner level support for information security and compliance is therefore essential.
SRM is at the forefront of information security in the UK. As cyber security supplier to H M Government, we understand large organisations, but our clients also include corporates, charities and SMEs. Our GDPR team provides expert guidance and is also able to scope a client’s system for frailties and vulnerabilities through bespoke penetration testing, assist with accurate data mapping and provide a whole range of additional services developed to support CISOs and DPOs at various levels from compliance to disaster recovery.
Our eDiscovery team is also on hand to provide technical expertise and resource for all aspects of eDiscovery, from the reduction and redaction of data to the presentation of evidence in a legally acceptable manner. SRM provides a range of highly professional cost-effective solutions, suitable for all sizes of law firms. From the provision of a low cost ‘E-Discovery Lite’ package to the involvement of Expert Witness Forensic Consultants or the use of a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer VCISOtm.
For a no obligation chat, contact Mark Nordstrom or call 0345 21 21 51
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Test and exercise
Read our other blogs:
eDiscovery: the issues facing law firms
Client files on home computers must be encrypted
The technology gap which leaves organisations vulnerable to attack