Security

Note-to-self: free download of interesting guides for SME from DigitalSME.eu

Jean-Luc Allard pointed out to a #free#download of interesting guides for #SME on implementing the #informationsecurity basics we all need:

Freshly published: Essential controls for SMEs to protect user’s #privacy and data and ensure #GDPR compliance (based on new #ISO27002)
https://lnkd.in/epridtnY

Direct download of PDF: https://lnkd.in/en8rVMBY

And also: The #ISO27001 standard made easy for SMEs:
https://lnkd.in/eiaBbdmp
Direct PDF access: https://lnkd.in/eFR2yjp

And there is more on the website of European DIGITAL SME Alliance (website: https://www.digitalsme.eu/)

#smebusiness#smesupport#smallbusiness

Data Compliance: Get it right the first time

Below is a short overview of the #Hexnode webinar, presented 2022-04-07 about data compliance.

The webinar recording is published at the Hexnode website (and embedded below).
And the PDF version of the slide deck is published in full color and B/W print version on Slideshare, see links below.

PPT version available on request (send me a DM on LinkedIN).

Data is the new oil…

Whatever business you run…

.. it won’t run without data:

  • Business data
  • Management data
  • HR data
  • Technical data
  • Network data
  • Personal data (PII)
  • Communications
  • Mail data 
  • Financial data
  • Operational data
  • Intelligence
  • Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Ideas

Other businesses want your data as well…

There is a massive growth of digital business:

  • Direct marketing
  • Data brokers
  • Data Intelligence
  • Data analytics
  • Big data
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Machine learning
  • Health care, research & development

But also… the dark side wants your data.

And your data in the wrong hands.. is explosive.

Current state of crime

Company and user data, and personal data is an important target and leverage in cybercrime lik

  • Phishing
  • Ransomware
    • not only encryption
    • data leak extortion
  • Reconnaissance & Hacking
  • Data breaches 
  • Biometric data
  • Digital & Economical war

Now the question is… How do YOU get in control?

You can’t simply lock up your data… because data needs to flow. (You want to use it…)

Data management essentials to get grip

Ask yourself: how much €$ can you spend to protect your data? To answer that question, you’ll need to get grip of some basic data management principles, in relation to security:

  1. You can only protect what you know you have
  2. Without an owner there is no protection
  3. Nothing is stable, everything has a lifecycle
Data lifecycle

Data lifecycle

The start of the cycle is mostly

  • short,
  • easy to manage,
  • low security risk. (if the creation fails… you have no data to keep under control)

The end of the cycle is mostly

  • long, (there are various reasons why you need to keep the data for a while, eg in archive before you dispose of it..)
  • difficult to manage (if the process fails, it’s difficult to track or keep under control)
  • high security risk. (risk of losing ownership, risk of leakages, …)

What is risk?

Assets have

Vulnerabilities (weaknesses/properties) 

that can be exploited by 

Threats (activities)

with impact ($$ cost).

You need to balance the protection against the impact. You don’t want to over-spend or under-protect.

Your boss (or insurance, of CFO ) needs a budget, spreading cost over a year, or 2..3..4..5.

[Risk management is calculating impact over the rate of occurrence/frequency…]

How to get started

Know the external context

  • International regulations (GDPR, …)
  • National regulations (SOC, …)
  • Sector regulations (PCI-DSS, ..)
  • Contractual obligations
  • Enterprise vs PII/personal data requirements

Know the internal context

  • Know your business (what)
  • Know your organization (organigram)
  • Make an inventory of processes and interfaces
  • Assign business ownership
    • For each process
    • For each asset

Know the processes

  • Know the data flow 
  • Know your sources (IN)
  • Know the data processing
  • Know your receivers (OUT)

Know the data in the processes

  • Categorize your data – data types
    • Enterprise data
    • PII / Personal data (GDPR !)
    • Other ?

Categorization (define data classes)

  • Sensitivity = linked to business impact
  • Ask the owner : “What if data is …”
    • unavailable, 
    • changed,
    • destroyed,
    • leaked,
    • accessed unauthorized, illegally, unlawfully,
  • Categorize your data sensitivity
    • Enterprise data, for example
    • Unclassified, Official, Restricted, Confidential, Secret, Top Secret (NATO) 
    • Public, Company internal, Confidential, Strictly confidential  
    • TLP RED, TLP Amber, TLB Green, TLP White (public)

Classification (apply the labels)

  • Responsibility of owner
  • Label all data
  • Label containers if you can’t label the data
    • Folder or File share
    • Database
    • mailbox 
    •  …

Mind the lifecycle

  • Get started
  • Keep going
  • Start over again
  • Think about security when
    • creating new processes
    • changing processes
    • removing processes
    • recheck on a regular schedule (even when nothing changes)

Mind the business and legal requirements

  • Accountability & Responsibility 
  • Reporting & audit requirements (SOC I-II, …)
  • Incident management requirements
  • Data breach requirements (GDPR)
  • Subject rights 

Consequences of data management failure

  • Financial loss
  • Business loss
  • Reputation loss 
  • Contract SLA violation
  • Regulatory violations
  • Fines
  • Prosecution
  • Personal accountability

Think about

  • Direct and indirect impact
  • Short term and long term impact
  • How long can you survive a total breakdown?

TAKEAWAYS

  • Manage enterprise data like personal data
  • Keep the categories simple (<7)
  • 3 TLP (RedAmberGreen) + 2 categories (public + highly critical)
  • Define and maintain ownership
  • Involve everyone
  • Evangelize internal & external stakeholders (incl. customers…)
  • Lead by example

Use business best practices

  • Use standards and frameworks
  • ISO (international)
  • NIST (US)
  • ENISA (EU)
  • COBIT (ISACA)

Classification and labeling

  • Force labeling
  • Aim to classify everything
  • Start with new data first
  • Update labels when you change documents
  • Set a default label for archived data that doesn’t change
  • DO NOT set “public” as default

Think about the support processes

  • Incident management (ISO 27035 & NIST)
  • Data breach management (GDPR & other …)
  • Business continuity (ISO22301)
  • Disaster recovery

Questions

How to identify regulations you should follow?

  • know and analyse the services you’re offering,
  • where is your data stored?
  • what kind of data you have (enterprise data, personal data, financial, …)
  • identify the local, national, regional, international regulations of sector legislations that apply to your business (check partners/competition, sector representatives, …)

Is there difference in regulation for small or large business?

  • very limited impact of size of company…
  • very likely some impact on financial and tax reporting,
  • some legislation only apply in large scale operations (eg GDPR only requires a DPO for certain type of operations, …)

Best place to start for SME/SMB?

Webinar recording by Hexnode

Hexnode webinar

Presentations

Full color

Black/White print

Note-to-self: PCI-DSS update 4 published

The #pcidss standard has been updated to v4, free to download.

Very handy and useful guidance, linked to #ISO27001, and also useful outside the payment card industry…

Full information page – PCI-DSS Resource hub

https://blog.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci-dss-v4-0-resource-hub

PCI-DSS document library

https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/document_library

Direct download of the #pcidssv4 pdf:

https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/documents/PCI-DSS-v4_0.pdf

#ICYMI, check these online fully accessible + freely downloadable ISO standards, relevant for information security, privacy & data protection

#ICYMI, In case you missed it.

Online freely accessible ISO standards

In the midst of the #COVID19 corona pandemic, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has unlocked free reading access to a bunch of relevant standards, including

  • ISO 22301:2019, Security and resilience – Business continuity management systems –Requirements
  • ISO 22316:2017, Security and resilience – Organizational resilience – Principles and attributes
  • ISO 22320:2018, Security and resilience – Emergency management – Guidelines for incident management
  • ISO 31000:2018, Risk management – Guidelines
  • ISO 13485:2016, Medical devices — Quality management systems – Requirements for regulatory purposes

The general access page with all online, fully accessible standards can be found here: https://www.iso.org/covid19.

Important note:

  • these standards are available online, but not downloadable (for legitimate downloads you need to purchase your copy in the ISO shop or with your national standards organisation)
  • there is no guarantee for continued free access once the Covid pandemic is over, if ever. That’s the sole discretion of the ISO, of course.

Freely downloadable ISO standards

Next to the (temporary) free online access, there is also a set of standards you can download for free, no payment required.
See here: https://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/

Short url to bookmark: https://ffwd2.me/FreeISO.

Check the interesting ISO standards (from the information security point of view) below

ISO27000 (Information security)

The ISO27001 vocabulary

ISO/IEC 27000:2018
EN – FR
5thInformation technology — Security techniques — Information security management systems — Overview and vocabularyISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27

Privacy Framework (ISO29100)

ISO/IEC 29100:2011
EN – FR
1stInformation technology — Security techniques — Privacy frameworkISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27

Cloud Computing Reference architecture

SO/IEC 17788:2014
EN
1stInformation technology — Cloud computing — Overview and vocabularyISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38
ISO/IEC 17789:2014
EN
1stInformation technology — Cloud computing — Reference architectureISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38

Cloud computing vocabulary

ISO/IEC 22123-1:2021
EN
1stInformation technology — Cloud computing — Part 1: VocabularyISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38

Cloud computing policy development

ISO/IEC TR 22678:2019
EN
1stInformation technology — Cloud computing — Guidance for policy developmentISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38

Cloud Computing SLAs

ISO/IEC 19086-1:2016
EN
1stInformation technology — Cloud computing — Service level agreement (SLA) framework — Part 1: Overview and conceptsISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38
ISO/IEC 19086-2:2018
EN
1stCloud computing — Service level agreement (SLA) framework — Part 2: Metric modelISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38

Common Criteria (ISO 15408)

ISO/IEC 15408-1:2009
EN – FR
3rdInformation technology — Security techniques — Evaluation criteria for IT security — Part 1: Introduction and general modelISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27
ISO/IEC 15408-2:2008
EN – FR
3rdInformation technology — Security techniques — Evaluation criteria for IT security — Part 2: Security functional componentsISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27
ISO/IEC 15408-3:2008
EN – FR
3rdInformation technology — Security techniques — Evaluation criteria for IT security — Part 3: Security assurance componentsISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27

Identity management

ISO/IEC 24760-1:2019
EN – FR
2ndIT Security and Privacy — A framework for identity management — Part 1: Terminology and conceptsISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27

Note-to-self: CIS Controls v8 (2021-05)

No need to pay with your privacy to bypass the registration wall… (no need to accept cookies either)

CIS Controls v8 PDF

https://learn.cisecurity.org/l/799323/2021-05-18/47qgs

CIS Controls v8 Excel

https://learn.cisecurity.org/l/799323/2021-05-18/47qgv

v8 Change Log

https://learn.cisecurity.org/l/799323/2021-05-18/47qgz

Also available

Translations

Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish:

https://learn.cisecurity.org/control-download

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Note-to-self: KopieID (to blur your ID card fotocopy)

Source:

As explained here (in Dutch) and here (Dutch), it’s a terrible ID (sorry, idea), to copy your identity card and hand over the unprotected copy to someone….

Therefore it’s highly interesting to protect the photocopy against abuse, in the ultimate case you need a photocopy of your identity card…

KopieID NL

In the Netherlands the government has provided an app for your mobile phone, to take a photo of your ID and then blur the redundant information and to add a remark / watermark to indicate the purpose limitation.

Check it out here:

They also provide an interesting video explanation:

KopieID BE

In Belgium, there is a website (without app) that does the same, see here:

References

Source articles:

Reference material from the articles:

Picture credits: Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

Image source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/hack-fraud-card-code-computer-3671982/

Note-to-self: SOC2 mapping to ISO27001

Just in case you get into SOC2 and want to know how to map it to existing information security implementation, whatever it may be, GDPR, ISO27001, NIST, … check this page

https://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/frc/assuranceadvisoryservices/mappingsrelevanttothesocsuiteofservices.html

It includes:

These links have nice XLS format sheets, with a bidirectional comparison between the frameworks.

Info on SOC1/SOC2/SOC3

https://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/frc/assuranceadvisoryservices/sorhome.html

SOC and SOX?

 SOC reports refer to an audit of internal controls to ensure data security, minimal waste, and shareholder confidence; SOX relates to government-issued record keeping and financial information disclosure standards law. In other words, one is about keeping information safe, and the other is about keeping corporations in check.

https://immedis.com/blog/what-are-the-key-differences-between-soc-and-sox/

https://www.logicgate.com/blog/a-comparison-of-soc-and-sox-compliance/

Also

https://linfordco.com/blog/soc-2-security-vs-iso-27001-certification/

(braindump article, still in progress)

CCSP and CCAK, not versus: build your cloud security expertise path based on your needs.

Last week (ISC)² published a blog post on the choice between CCSP and CCAK.

You can find it here: https://www.isc2.org/articles/CCSP-versus-csa-ccak.

“What is the right certification for you?”

The main title of the (ISC)² article on CCSP vs CCAK is “CCSP Certification vs. CCAK Certificate: What Are the Distinctions?”

That’s exactly what you get. A list of technical differentiators between CCSP and CCAK, but according to (ISC)².

But if you hope to get an actual answer to what the right certification is, for you… they forget to ask …you.

What do you think would be the conclusion, if you ask that question to either one of the contestants while you compare 2 certifications? Of course each party will simply draw the conclusion that their own certification is the best choice.

To answer the most important question, the dilemma CCSP or CCAK, is simple: do you need technical or audit skills for cloud security?

The answer

In essence, the answer is simple:

  • if you need cloud audit skills, dive in to the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and ISACA Certificate CCAK.
  • if you want to have architect level technical cloud expertise and knowledge, choose CCSP
  • if you want cloud security knowledge, in basic or advanced hands-on, there are other choices to start with (more about it below)

So, if you ask the question “what is the right certification for you”, you immediately know that there is no right answer, but there are many options.
Options for a multi level expertise roadmap in cloud security, based on your current skills and your future goals.

If you like a tough challenge: why not jump into the CCAK or CCSP, CCSP or CCAK, whatever, right away.

But if you would like to boost your chance of success… take a deep breath and better plan smartly.

And don’t start with CCSP/CCAK, but prepare your track towards CCSP/CCAK first.

First some background to plan your roadmap

Setting expectations

Just to set expectations, this article only focuses on the personal education and certification options, offered by (ISC)², ISACA and CSA. Including other education provider would lead us too far.
There are way more other (cyber)security certifications available, but we focus on the cloud security track, which limits the options…

Feel free to comment with other options for cloud security training. I’ll update the article where relevant.

CSA CCSK

The Cloud Security Alliance launched the CCSK in 2011. And as they explained here, “the CCSK was quite literally the industry’s first examination of cloud security knowledge when it was released back in 2011. “

The CCSK is an easy entry, high level introduction to Cloud Security, and it doesn’t require you to have deep technical cloud security expertise.

But it still is a nice baseline for the cloud security essential knowledge.

(ISC)² – CCSP

In short: CCSP = CISSP [by (ISC)²]+ CCSK [by CSA]

The long version is explained in the (ISC)² article comparing CCSP and CCAK.

  • CCSP = Certified Cloud Security Professional
  • You need at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience
  • CCSP is pretty much the same level of difficulty as CISSP, but has focus on cloud security.

The CCSP was launched in 2015, as a cooperation between (ISC)² and CSA. (see CSA press release here), a couple years after the CCSK launch in 2011.
The CCSP is the bigger brother of the CCSK, more advanced, and as CSA rightfully mentions in there CCSK-CCSP comparison blog, the CCSP is on the level of CISSP with a major cloud flavor.

That’s where the dummy math description comes from…

CCSP = CISSP + CCSK.

But CCSP certainly is not an entry level exam.

More information:

ISACA & CSA – CCAK

CCAK = CISA [ISACA] + CCSK [CSA]

CCAK (Certificate of Cloud Auditing Knowledge) is cohosted by ISACA and CSA.
And then you immediately know the approach is different than the approach of (ISC)².

ISACA (Previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association®) stems from audit.
CSA focuses on cloud security.

That’s exactly what CCAK is about : cloud security audit.

See here:

As ISACA mentions on their product page: “The Industry’s First Global Cloud Auditing Credential”.

CISSP

For completeness, I mentioned the CISSP ( Certified Information Systems Security Professional).
I don’t think it needs a lot of explanation, it’s pretty much the reference standard for IT Systems security. (ISC)² references it as “The World’s Premier Cybersecurity Certification”.

It’s a pretty heavy exam, and it does require at least 5 years professional security experience. This is not an entry level exam.

More info: https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/CISSP

SSCP (Systems Security Certified Practitioner)

Due to the experience requirements, CISSP might be a tough credential to start with, although you can pass the exam, and continue to build your experience to grab the CISSP title…

If you want the plan your credentials the smart way, or you’re fresh in cyber-, information or IT-security, you better start with SSCP.

That the little brother of CISSP, and it’s an excellent way to step up to CISSP. More info: https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/SSCP

Where to start?

Cybersecurity & Information security essentials

As explained earlier, for tech skills in cyber-, IT and information security: look into SSCP first.

(Then step up to CISSP.)

Cloud security essentials: CCSK

Now it’s obvious what your first step in cloud security education should be: CCSK.

The CCSK is the perfect introduction to cloud security essentials.

Although it’s very helpful to have some technical IT basic knowledge, the CCSK is very accessible for general audience.

To prepare for the CCSK, you can follow classes or self-study via a completely free preparation toolkit.

Source: CSA CCSK v4 exam (https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/artifacts/ccskv4-exam-prep-kit/)

You can buy a double-try access ticket for the CCSK online exam (60 questions, 90 minutes), so if you would fail the first attempt, study again and retry the exam.

Then plan your track: only technical (no interest for audit) or audit, or both

Only technical

If you focus on technical expertise in cloud security, CCSP is a reference standard (at least, on of them…) .

As mentioned: CCSP = CISSP + CCSK.

So the track is clear

  • After passing the CCSK exam,
  • Take the CISSP exam
  • then take the CCSP

This is the easier route if you already have 5yr+ experience. It’s not the cheapest route, as you pass the CISSP first, but it’s worth the effort. (you only need to pay 1 yearly fee at (ISC)², so after 1 certification, … no extra cost in yearly membership fee)
For junior, less experienced, security engineers, start with SSCP before jumping into CISSP, and then CCSP.

Audit

When you target IT security audits, you need to take a different route depending your background.
Having the CCSP/CISSP background is extremely useful to boost your career in audit.

But for the CCAK, the core audit baseline is CISA.

Keep in mind, similar to CISSP and CCSP, CISA has the same requirements regards professional experience, 5 years.

But if you’re a ISACA CISA, you can add CCSK to the track and land on the CCAK.

Both?

Then it’s obvious, first tech, then audit, meaning a smart combination of

  1. CCSK
  2. (SSCP > ) CISSP
  3. CCSP
  4. CISA (or alternative)
  5. CCAK

Alternative routes

ISO27001 Implementer & Auditor

And alternative route to the auditing experience is ISO27001 auditing, but you’ll need some implementation experience before you can audit.

CISM

Within the ISACA portfolio, the CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), covers the same areas as most ISO27001 (lead) implementer courses.

Which can be helpful to ramp up for the CISA audit part, to gain some hands-on in IT & Infosec governance.

Visualizing your cloud security education roadmap

Lots of blah for a simple choice?

Allow me to visualize the options…

The difference between “certification” and “certificate”, does it really matter?

In it’s blog post (ISC)² tries to put CCSP above CCAK by saying “CCSP is a certification; CCAK is a certificate.”

And they continue “A certification recognizes a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities, typically framed by a job role, while a certificate’s scope is narrower and only documents training course completion. A certification often requires continuing professional education (CPE) to stay in front of trends, while a certificate’s body of knowledge does not evolve over time or require CPE credits to maintain.

And their explanation is at least flawed and cutting corners to benefit CCSP.

There are many explanations and interpretations of “certification”, depending the context.
But in essence, “certification” is a process and a certificate is a document (the result).

When you certify for “CCSP” at (ISC)², you need to comply with the CCSP condition and then get a document, your CCSP certificate.
Idem for CCAK, you need to comply with their conditions.

Both the certification process for CCSP as the process for the CCAK are used by other similar education providers.

Eg, PECB, ISACA, EC-COUNCIL, … and others require to pay a yearly fee, keep CPE/CPD (continous professional education or development). Some yearly fees are cheaper as others.

Like CSA, Microsoft and others ask for a 1 time exam fee, and then update the exam on longer term, not yearly, and do not require a yearly maintenance fee.

It’s a choice of the certificate owner, how the evaluation and exams are done.

Some of them comply to the ISO17024, and education standard. There are huge benefits to comply (like increased credibility, compatibility with other certifications, …). But it’s not mandatory.

(ISC)² uses an exam, with experience requirement and continuous education once you pass the exam, but you do not need to pass the exam again, unless it’s upgraded to a new build or major version.

But CSA does exactly the same, for example when CCSK was upgraded from v3 to v4, you needed to pass the exam again.

Not on a yearly basis, but the program is updated, the exam is updated… on a regular basis, without yearly fee.

It’s rather a (small) financial effort, not of significance for most companies paying the bill. (Although as an individual, the cost of certification can become a serious burden…)

And it’s certainly not relevant when choosing between CCSP and CCAK. CCAK is cheaper, as referenced in the (ISC)² comparison chart.

References

(ISC)²: CCSP Certification vs. CCAK Certificate: What Are the Distinctions?

Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)

CSA Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

CSA & ISACA CCAK

CCAK learning material

CCSK vs CCSP

Vocabulary (alphabetical)

CCAK: Certificate of Cloud Auditing Knowledge (https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/education/ccak/)

CCSK: Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/education/ccsk/)

CCSP: Certified Cloud Security Professional (https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/CCSP)

CSA: Cloud Security Alliance (https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/)

(ISC)²:  International Information System Security Certification Consortium (https://www.isc2.org/)

Is “not paying” THE solution against ransomware?

The discussion and opinions on paying ransom in case of cyber-ransomware is very alive and vivid.

Many people have strong opinions, but the actual victims of ransomware are seldom heard. They mostly keep silent.

This article is the English translation and adaptation of an article, originally published in Dutch, earlier.

(Source) Initial article in Dutch : https://identityunderground.wordpress.com/2021/07/30/de-oplossing-tegen-ransomware-volgens-brian/

In Trends magazine, Brian Schippers published an opinion article a few days ago with a very easy and simple solution against ransomware: don’t pay. (Source: Trends)

I must admit, it’s a great opinion article to get a nice discussion going with companies. At least it helps to raise awareness of ransomware and ransom payments. But unfortunately the article is not a Greek ancient-wise talk [σοφςς].

But he’s right about the reprehensible statements made by some of the ransomware victims. It is outrageous that a company dares to claim that ‘only’ 300K has been paid.

(translated quote) “We understand that we are suffering reputation damage, but we can’t be blamed,” the company manager told reporters. That statement in the press will haunt him for a while.

And it’s not the first time we’ve witnessed such statements. For another company from the Westhoek (Western Belgian Region, near the coast) , it was “less than 1 million”…

It’s very meaningful, how little business leaders worry about ransomware or how careless they can be to protect their business.

And Brian puts forward a very nice theory how to stop ransomware, … in the ideal world.

But unfortunately, the article does not show in any way that the opinion-maker, in real life, has ever been on the side of a defenseless victim who is completely under the control of some remote criminal.

Because the choice to (NOT) pay a ransom is only available if you have a well-functioning and thoroughly tested backup and restore system.

At that moment, when it happens, all preventive measures have clearly failed already. Way too late to have regrets…

Prevention only works BEFORE the criminal strikes. Or when he has left again, to avoid repetition.

People do not choose to pay ransomware. It’s the last resort.

They just have no choice. All other means are already exhausted or unavailable.

You don’t pay a ransom if your backup/restore system works properly.

Without a guaranteed recovery function, mathematics is very simple

If you

  • DO NOT pay =  100% GUARANTEE that you LOSE your DATA and you’re almost certain that your company will also be dead very quickly, or at least suffer long-term or irreparable damage.
  • PAY = there is SOME chance that you may see (something) of your data again. That’s always better than the previous option, no matter what it costs.

The third option in between is that the cost of the ransom is lower than the real cost of restoring your data. If you run into a cheap criminal, you can only try to talk him out of it and limit the damage. Pure math.

What if…?

It’s very easy to imagine: if a good-looking homejacker just rings the doorbell at your home. And your dearest opens the heavily armed front door.

A few seconds later, the robber asks you to clear your bank account completely with a gun to your dearest one’s head.

Are you going to pay or not?!

Do you have a choice?!

Replacing your dearest… is not an option, I would think.

With ransomware, the situation is exactly the same.

Well, Brian Schippers apparently doesn’t think so.

In his article Mr. Schippers is very convinced that you should certainly not pay a ransom. But the article does not offer any concrete, useful solution or practical suggestion as alternative.

He talks about a “security solution”… and reading between the lines you easily know where it should come from.

But there is no mention of decent and continuous training of people, thorough awareness training and thorough backup/restore or even better offline backup, even in the current age of cloud.

Because with “wise” software alone, it won’t work.

Even with the best technical security you have, people remain the weak point.

And the stronger the security, the more crime will target people directly.

And people make mistakes. People make software. Each software contains errors.

And mistakes will always be exploited.

And you only need just one employee who is fooled by a cleverly designed, but infected mail or a noble unknown on the phone.

It happens in no time, there are more than enough statistics in practice.

Because the hack or phishing is so well designed these days, that even cyber professionals can’t easily detect fake mails.

“The budget should not be a problem.”

Yes, yes, of course it shouldn’t, Brian! Nice slogan.

NOT.

Because the practice proves something completely different:

cyber protection < a very small percent of the IT budget < a small percent of the company budget.

Well, now what?!

It would be quite different if business leaders and managers were personally held liable for a pertinent lack of “state-of-the-art” (i.e. up-to-date) security that aligns both people, processes and technology very well.

Only THAT would solve the whole ransomware problem, very quickly. Deprive the criminal from his leverage.

Don’t look too far. Just look at how the insurance companies are doing in real life.

See how they implement car, fire, liability or other insurance. If it is shown that you are negligent, knowingly refuse to implement sufficient security … then the insurance will not pay or will claim back the refund.

Easy and simple, isn’t it?

Not so in cyber insurance, that’s the wild west. For a couple a thousand Euros in insurance, you get a bag of money of a couple millions to pay the criminal.

You bet on hackers to give up.

And if you bet hackers will give up soon, start by giving a “tournée générale” (buying a beer to everyone).

Because cybercrime and ransomware is big business. They make a lot of money with crime, so they won’t give up. Not now, not ever.

[BTW, it’s not because known ransomware groups suddenly disappear that they’re gone too. We don’t know the facts about that yet…]

But criminals don’t respect any law or rule. And they certainly don’t have ethical principles. It’s just a business that makes a lot of money.

So they are always have a head start and they are very motivated. And they will twist your arm even harder… or worse.

Finally

We must keep repeating that state-of-the-art security is all about security solutions at different layers and levels, which look beyond technology.

When you keep claiming you should not pay for ransomware, you’re running after the facts. In practice, it doesn’t solve anything… People in distress and panic will ignore law and ethical guidelines.

Also in physical life, many authorities officially declare that they do not give in to ransom demands. Is paying a ransom prohibited by law? But in many cases, money is paid clandestinely. Reality check.

So?

Make sure that the liability for implementing poor security measures hurts the right person, in the right place. Not the employees, but their boss.

And consequently:

So make sure that cybersecurity is sponsored at the top management level.


Dé oplossing tegen ransomware volgens Brian

In Trends magazine, heeft Brian Schippers een paar dagen geleden een opinie artikel gepubliceerd met een poepsimpele oplossing tegen ransomware: niet betalen. (Bron: Trends)

Toegegeven, het is een geweldig opinie-artikel om een lekkere discussie met bedrijven op gang te trekken. Het helpt tenminste om de bewustwording van ransomware en losgeld aan te wakkeren. Maar het artikel is jammer genoeg geen Griekse oude-wijzen praat [σοφός].

En hij heeft wel gelijk over de laakbare uitlatingen van sommige slachtoffers. Het is schandalig dat een bedrijf durft beweren dat er ‘maar’ 300K betaald is.

Herinnert U het nog: “We begrijpen dat we imagoschade lijden, maar ons valt niks te verwijten.”, zei de bedrijfsverantwoordelijke in de pers. Die uitspraak in de pers zal ‘m nog wel een tijdje achtervolgen.

En het is niet de eerste keer dat we dergelijke uitspraken mogen noteren. Voor een ander bedrijf uit de Westhoek, was het “minder dan 1 miljoen”… 

Het zegt heel veel, hoe weinig zorgen bedrijfsleiders zich maken over ransomware of hoe nonchalant ze kunnen zijn om hun bedrijf te beschermen.

En Brian heeft een heel leuke theorie om ransomware te stoppen in de ideale wereld. 

Maar de tekst toont jammer genoeg op geen enkele manier dat de opiniemaker ooit met praktijkkennis aan de zijde heeft gestaan van ‘n weerloos slachtoffer dat volledig onder controle is van een of andere crimineel op afstand.

Want de keuze om losgeld (NIET) te betalen, heb je ENKEL EN ALLEEN als je een goedwerkend en grondig getest backup en restore systeem hebt.

Op zo’n moment hebben alle preventieve maatregelen duidelijk al gefaald. Dus dat zijn vijgen na Pasen.

Preventie werkt alleen VOOR de crimineel toeslaat. Of als ie weer vertrokken is, om herhaling te voorkomen.

Mensen kiezen niet om ransomware te betalen. Het is het laatste redmiddel.

Ze kunnen gewoon niet anders. Alle andere middelen zijn dan al uitgeput.

Je betaalt geen losgeld als je backup/restore systeem goed werkt.

Zonder gegarandeerde herstelfunctie is de wiskunde heel simpel

  • NIET betalen = 100% GARANTIE dat je je DATA KWIJT bent en zo goed als zeker dat je bedrijf ook heel snel kapot is, toch tenminste langdurige of onherstelbare schade lijdt.
  • BETALEN = enige kans dat je mogelijk nog (iets) van je data terug ziet. Da’s altijd beter dan vorige optie, wat het ook kost.

De derde optie hiertussen is dat de kost van het losgeld lager is als de reële kost om je data terug te zetten. Als je een goedkope crimineel tegenkomt, kan je maar proberen om ‘m om te praten en de schade te beperken. Pure wiskunde.

Wat als…?

Het is héél gemakkelijk voor te stellen: als een goedogende homejacker gewoon aanbelt bij je thuis. En je allerliefste doet de zwaar bewapende voordeur open. 

Een paar seconden later vraagt de overvaller jou om je rekening volledig leeg te maken met een pistool tegen het hoofd van je allerliefste.

Ga je betalen of niet?!

Heb je keuze dan?!

Jouw allerliefste vervangen… is geen optie, zou ik denken.

Met ransomware is de situatie net hetzelfde.

Nou, Brian Schippers vindt dus blijkbaar van niet.

Mr. Schippers roept in z’n opinie artikel hoog van de toren dat je zeker geen losgeld mag betalen. Maar enige concrete, bruikbare oplossing of praktische suggestie biedt het artikel anders niet echt.

Hij spreekt volop over “security oplossing”…het schemert anders wel duidelijk door waar die vandaan moet komen.

Maar er wordt echter geen woord gerept over goede en continue opleiding van mensen, doorgedreven awareness training en doorgedreven backup/restore of beter nog offline backup, zelfs in het huidige cloudtijdperk.

Want met “wijze” software alleen, zal het niet lukken.

Zelfs met de beste technische beveiliging die je hebt, mensen blijven het zwakke punt.

En hoe sterker de beveiliging, hoe meer de criminaliteit zich op de persoon zelf richt. 

En mensen maken fouten. Mensen maken software. Elke software bevat fouten.

En er zullen altijd fouten uitgebuit worden.

En je moet maar 1 medewerker hebben die om de tuin geleid wordt door een slim ontworpen, maar besmette mail of een nobele onbekende aan de telefoon. 

Het is zo gebeurd, meer als genoeg cijfers in de praktijk.

Want de hack of phishing is tegenwoordig zo goed ontworpen dat zelfs cyberprofessionals vals en echt moeilijk kunnen uit elkaar houden.

“Het budget mag daarbij geen probleem zijn.” 

Ja ja, tuurlijk mag dat niet, Brian! Mooie slogan.

NOT.

Want de praktijk zegt helemaal iets anders: cyberbescherming < een heel klein percent van ‘t IT budget < een klein percent van het bedrijfsbudget.

Nou, wat dan wel?

Het zou helemaal wat anders zijn als bedrijfsleiders en managers persoonlijk aansprakelijk zouden zijn voor een pertinent gebrek aan “state-of-the-art” (dus up-to-date) beveiliging die zowel personen, processen als technologie goed op mekaar afstemt.

DAT zou pas het hele ransomware probleem oplossen, heel snel.

Heel ver moet je niet kijken. Kijk maar hoe de verzekeringen het aanpakken in het fysieke leven.

Kijk wat toegepast wordt in auto-, brand-, aansprakelijkheids- of andere verzekering. Als aangetoond wordt dat je nalatig bent, willens en wetens weigert om voldoende beveiliging te spenderen … dan vordert de verzekering het terug.

Simpel toch?

Niet in cyberverzekering, dat is het wilde westen. Voor een koppel duizend Euro aan verzekering, zit je op een zak geld van een koppel miljoen Euro.

Wedden dat hackers het opgeven?

En als je erop wedt dat hackers het snel zullen opgeven, begin dan alvast maar met een tournée générale te geven.

Want cybercriminaliteit en ransomware is big business. Ze kunnen met misdaad veel geld verdienen, dus die geven niet op. Nu niet, nooit niet.

[BTW, het is niet omdat gekende ransomware groepen plots van de aardbol verdwijnen dat ze ook weg zijn. Daar weten we het fijne nog niet van…]

Maar criminelen houden zich aan geen enkele wet of regel. En ethische principes hebben ze al helemaal niet. Het is gewoon een business, die veel opbrengt.

Dus ze zijn altijd in het voordeel en erg gemotiveerd. En ze zullen je arm nog harder omwringen… of erger.

Tot slot

We moeten blijven herhalen dat goede beveiliging draait om beveilingsoplossingen op verschillende lagen en niveaus, die verder kijken als alleen maar technologie.

Je kan nog lang roeptoeteren dat je geen ransomware mag betalen. Dan loop je achter de feiten aan. Dat lost niets op in praktijk.

Ook in het fysieke leven, roepen heel wat staten officieel dat ze niet toegeven aan losgeldeisen. Is daar losgeld betalen bij wet verboden? Maar er wordt op veel plaatsen clandestien toch geld over tafel geschoven. Realiteit.

Dus?

Zorg dat de aansprakelijkheid voor gebrekkige veiligheid pijn doet, bij de juiste persoon, op de juiste plaats. Niet bij de werknemers, maar bij hun baas.

En bijgevolg,

Zorg dus dat cybersecurity gesponsord wordt op topmanagement niveau.