The World after Safe Harbor

In October 2015, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the Safe Harbor Agreement for transferring data to the USA invalid. The decision was based on a lawsuit filed by the Austrian, Maximilian Schrems, who claimed that the data storage practices of Facebook in the USA did not conform to European data protection legislation. After the ECJ upheld the Schrems case, many international companies faced an upheaval to their existing data transfer practices. At the end of the interim period on February 1, they were no longer permitted to share personal data including names, addresses and credit card numbers with subsidiaries in the USA. In principle, this decision could affect all kinds of companies – not just social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, but entire sectors including ecommerce and cloud computing. Violations of data protection legislation can incur financial penalties of up to EUR 300,000. Many managers initially reacted indifferently to the end of Safe Harbor. As the transfer of personal data is essential for international business, it was unthinkable that this practice could end, and businesses would be forced into digital silence. However, businesses grew more anxious with every day that an agreement could not be reached between the European Commission and the USA. Data protection in the United States has a completely different significance among the public, and for most companies, in comparison to Europe and especially in Germany. In the United States, data is often considered a flexible meta currency that is utilized for profitable means. Questions about data security, especially concerns on the misuse of data, are largely unheard. The state and intelligence... read more

Big Data and IT Security – SIEM as an analysis tool

Over the last few years, gleaning useful information from massive amounts of data has also become more difficult for IT security and approaches to Big Data and information analysis are a critical topic in this sector. The number of users, end devices, applications and log files are constantly on the rise. At the same time, attackers are becoming more sophisticated and professional while constantly adapting their strategies. Companies are now facing a completely new level of risks and challenges to their IT security operations. Frequently companies have more than enough data on security events, including successful penetrations and potential vulnerabilities. Enormous volumes of data are generated by network components, storage systems or applications. Security threats buried among this data must be taken seriously, however attacks often remain unnoticed or they are not discovered in time due to a lack of structured data. Analyzing and interpreting this data and deploying a rapid response is almost impossible without specialist software. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems are designed to improve the analysis and management of attack indicators by establishing connections between events from the collected data and issuing warnings or reports to IT administrators based on a defined policy. This helps companies to meet compliance requirements and simplifies the documentation and archiving of security relevant events. Automated responses can even be generated and set to ensure a rapid defense response. SIEM and Remote Access External access to company networks is one of the most critical areas linked to IT security. Attackers often attempt to exploit remote connections to gain access to company data. Information is available in user and access... read more

Back to Basics: Tackling the Fundamental Cybersecurity Solutions [VIDEO]

It’s fair to say that organizations, particularly larger enterprises, are making more concerted efforts nowadays to invest heavily and quickly into cybersecurity. Just a few short years ago, businesses were content with treating cybersecurity as something frivolous, an optional add-on; a cyberattack couldn’t possibly happen to you, right? And yet, in a short amount of time, we’ve seen the rate of cyberattacks and data breaches explode, both in frequency and impact. Seemingly no one is outside the firing sights of hackers: enterprises, SMBs, government agencies, individuals; all are fair game and have been targeted without impunity. That kind of fear has lit a fire under previously complacent organizations now looking to ramp up their cybersecurity game. But not all enterprises – and especially SMBs, which have comparatively fewer IT resources to work with – know exactly how to translate that urgency into action. They know they want solutions that are easy to use, easy to implement and get the job done – but where do you start? What’s ground zero for company cybersecurity? It’s a fundamental question, and one that many organizations often neglect – to their own detriment – in the rush to become more secure. They end up effectively putting the cart before the horse, missing some of the fundamentals of cybersecurity that, if left unaddressed, become significant threat factors. The 2015 Global Threat Intelligence Report, released by NTT Com Security, highlights just how bad this awareness gap has become, noting that 76 percent of the vulnerabilities in an enterprise’s cybersecurity strategy had been there for two-and-a-half years – and almost 10 percent had been present for... read more

A Look at BYOD in 2016

Happy 2016! It’s a new year, and a time for fresh resolutions to improve your life over the next 12 months, whether that involves running a marathon, getting a new job or taking that trip abroad you’ve been putting off. But for businesses, those New Year’s resolutions should be expressly focused on stronger security. With data breaches, email hacks and password thefts becoming more and more commonplace – and each cyberattack casting wider nets of victims – this is one resolution that can’t be allowed to fall through. This is especially true for organizations adopting BYOD and mobile-friendly policies. Just as developers have taken a “mobile first” approach to creating new apps – designing and optimizing apps from the ground up for mobile viewing and touchscreen interfaces – companies have begun taking the same approach to how their employees operate, whether it’s by allowing them to use their own personal devices in the workplace or utilizing either personal or company-owned devices while working remotely. As CIO.com points out, it’s important that this strategy pays special attention to security. Integrating more wireless and mobile devices into your company may make employees’ lives easier and more convenient, but it can open up serious potential security vulnerabilities if the proper precautions aren’t in place. A secure remote access VPN paired with cybersecurity policies like multi-factor authentication can help defend mobile communications – and protect the personal and corporate data that those communications send back and forth – from external threats. A New Year’s Resolution for Stronger Mobile Security As BNDA notes in its top 10 IT predictions for 2016, more than half... read more

Open Haus: Seamless Roaming [VIDEO]

Imagine this: You’re sitting on the train, trying to get your work done, when your Wi-Fi connection – not always the most reliable on trains – drops out. Maybe you manage to re-connect in a few minutes. Maybe you switch to your data plan to get back online. Or, maybe when the train gets close enough to a station, you can switch to their hotspot, and save some data in the process. Over the course of that trip, you had to cycle through different networks to maintain an internet connection, constantly losing any sessions you had running and forcing any apps you were using to restart. Not only that, but when end users have to switch that often between connections, it can make re-connecting to a VPN slow or frustrating, and they may opt to forgo the VPN altogether if those issues persist. It’s an understandable concern of inconvenience – after all, frequent network disruptions can make working remotely virtually impossible. But indulging in that concern can also dredge up even more problematic security issues. Users shouldn’t have to choose between network convenience and VPN security.   How It Works With NCP engineering’s Secure Enterprise Solution they don’t have to. The on-the-go demands of today’s mobile workers, who need reliable internet connections wherever they may be and also require the secure remote access provided by a VPN, make seamless roaming a prerequisite for how to stay both online and secure nowadays – and it’s a prerequisite built into NCP’s VPN solutions. While users may shift from one connection or IP address to the next, depending on where they are... read more

Endpoint Security: The Cornerstone of the Cybersecurity Puzzle

Some enterprises occasionally fail to realize that many of the differing cybersecurity services available today aren’t optional add-ons but necessary, oftentimes critical, pieces of a complete security strategy. There are a suite of unique security protocols and services that all work together to protect a network and safeguard valuable business data from intrusion. Cybersecurity is a holistic process that requires multiple moving parts working in tandem; failure to do so could leave networks with painful vulnerabilities, not to mention wasted resources. Endpoint security is one such critical piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. While it’s difficult to rank security systems in order of importance, it’s hard to imagine any of the other measures used to secure a network being functional without this one in place. It works like this: Endpoint security is installed on a client/server and may be managed by a central server, or gateway, that runs a security program to verify a network device. VPN and anti-virus software installed on an approved system requires the user to comply with policies before accessing the network. Without the permissions, a user can’t get into the shared network. Without this safeguard in place at the outset of network access, it’s hard to imagine many of the other potential security systems being fully capable of doing their job. Endpoint security is a proactive prevention method, while almost all other security systems are reactive, after-the fact measures. Incident response, for instance, functions as damage control. If endpoint security isn’t in place, the likelihood of a data breach happening is higher all around. An incident response strategy can’t predict a security failure ahead of... read more

Open Haus: Multi-Factor Authentication [VIDEO]

NCP has been present at a number of industry events throughout the year, from it-sa in Nuremberg to SC Congress in New York to INTERFACE in Denver. While these gatherings offer great opportunities for reconnecting with our friends and partners, as well as reaching out to new clients, they also provide an invaluable time for taking the industry’s temperature, so to speak. And if there was one thing we found that was on nearly everyone’s minds this year, it was the growing need for two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication. As data breaches caused by spear-phishing and social engineering tactics have become both increasingly more frequent and more damaging, multi-factor authentication emerges as a common sense solution for reducing the success rate of these cyberattacks. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as flicking a switch. Cybersecurity budgets may be increasing, but IT professionals are still struggling with the amount of resources they have, and are unsure about where to shift their priorities. How to implement multi-factor user authentication, or how to determine which VPN or defense-in-depth solution offers the best multi-layer fit for your organization, are all pain points for enterprises. How It Works That’s what gives NCP Secure Enterprise Management (SEM) such a leg up on the competition. Unlike other secure remote access VPN providers, NCP’s solution provides integrated multi-factor authentication safeguards to help give your organization greater peace of mind. Protecting login information with just a username and password isn’t safe anymore; it’s all too easy for hackers to guess around these, especially when so many users have simple passwords to begin with. Two-factor or multi-factor authentication setups, instead, require... read more

Does Bringing an ’Ethical Hacker’ In House Pay Off?

A study last year estimated that the global losses from cybercrime ranged from $375 to $575 billion – for just 2014 alone. This figure is only expected to get higher with each passing year as cybercriminals become more sophisticated, and their ranks grow with more opportunistic hackers looking to cash in on an increasingly lucrative trend. Given that, it’s easy to see how and why panic among both enterprises and SMBs might start to set in. What’s most troubling about the cybercrime phenomenon is not only the amount of money or information that could be stolen, but how much businesses need to spend just to protect themselves. Adequate cybersecurity protocols aren’t free, and even when a company has put expensive measures into place, there is no guarantee that they will catch every single potential threat – all it takes is just one malicious email, or one spear-phishing attempt, to make it through, after all. One innovative method that businesses have explored is employing an in-house “ethical hacker” to identify potential security risks and patch them ahead of time. Essentially, these personnel are former hackers who may have used their skill sets for illicit means – stealing bank account information, breaking into corporate databases, committing identity fraud – but are now being turned legitimate by companies looking to take advantage of their skills for more beneficial purposes. Instead of hacking into the enterprise’s systems to steal something, these ethical hackers instead hack into the company’s systems to exploit certain cybersecurity vulnerabilities, essentially attempting to beat the bad guys to the punch. Once they have identified a company’s major security flaws,... read more

‘Tis the Season: Why Cyberattackers Set their Sights on the Holidays

The holiday shopping season is back again and now in full gear. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicking off the annual frenzy, shoppers are already rummaging through department stores or scouring online marketplaces like Amazon to find that perfect gift – and ideally, at the perfect price too. The ecommerce side of the season is expected to be especially successful this year, with online sales predicted to jump 14 percent over the last holiday season, accounting for over $70 billion and approximately 9 percent of all U.S. retail sales. It’s great news for shoppers, great news for businesses and, unfortunately, great news for hackers too. The busy season makes December a more opportune time for cyberattackers to strike than the rest of the year. Remember Target’s data breach? Over 70 million customer records were compromised, including 30 to 40 million credit and debit cards, all at the peak of the 2013 holiday shopping season – ensuring there were plenty of potential victims and transactions for hackers to leech off of. Much like tax season, the holiday shopping season involves so much exchanging of personal and financial information while buying products and attempting to land deals that this time of year becomes a gold mine for cyberattackers. But it’s not just the shopping side of things that makes people vulnerable to cyberattacks; it’s all the vacation time too. Because as much as the holidays should mean taking some time off from work, not all of us can disconnect from it completely – especially with the option to view work emails on our phone, anywhere and at any time. But... read more

Missing the Forest for the Trees: How Cyberattacks in the News Can Mask the Threat to SMBs [VIDEO]

Cyberattacks and data breaches have been making headlines more and more these last few years. Whether it was the 40 million customer credit and debit cards stolen from Target in 2013, the major email leak at Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 or the 22 million personnel records compromised in the federal Office of Personnel Management this year, it’s hard to deny we’re seeing an already troubling trend grow even bigger. But perhaps there’s an even more worrisome trend at play that is not only suffering a lack of media exposure, but is actually being exacerbated by that lack of coverage. Because while all of the above victims and plenty more – including Home Depot, Anthem, P.F. Chang’s and JPMorgan Chase – represented serious and major breaches of consumer or corporate information, they’re also all major enterprises. And you would be remiss to believe that only the biggest companies get taken down by cyberattackers, when, in fact, it’s the smaller businesses that often prove the most frequent and fruitful targets for hackers. A survey released by Nationwide Insurance revealed that approximately 80 percent of all small- to mid-sized businesses in the U.S. don’t have a cyberattack response plan in place. Additionally, 60 percent of all cyberattacks are targeted at these same SMBs. If this seems grossly disproportionate with the amount of news coverage given to hacked enterprises over SMBs, that’s because it is – and that’s exactly what cyberthieves are banking on. Because SMBs have fewer resources to work with, and are less likely to learn about cyberthreats to their business from the news, they end up lacking the tools... read more

Cybersecurity Isn’t Generational: Why Millennials May Not Be the Tech Hope of the Future

Of all the assumptions made and beliefs held about millennials, one of the most common is that they’re uniquely tech-savvy. After all, this is the first generation to grow up being exposed first to the advent of computers and the Internet, and now to smartphones, tablets and always-on connectivity. So it’s no surprise that governments have been banking on these digital natives, who practically eat, sleep and breathe technology, to become their cybersecurity saviors. Who better than the first 24/7 tech generation to demonstrate a keen understanding of the current threat landscape and the technical skills necessary to implement the best defense-in-depth measures to counter those threats? Unfortunately, that may be little more than a pipedream, if a new survey is any indication. That report, “Securing our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap,” released by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Raytheon, identified a significant cybersecurity awareness gap among millennials worldwide – specifically, respondents between the ages of 18 and 26, hailing from countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan. Despite the presumption that millennials would be naturally more predisposed to grasping and deploying best practices for cybersecurity, as well as pursuing cyber careers to do so, many of them sound alarmingly out of touch. Here are just a few of that survey’s findings: Close to 80 percent had neither spoken with a cybersecurity professional before or weren’t sure if they had done so 69 percent felt that their high school computer classes hadn’t prepared them for a cyber career 67 percent said they hadn’t heard about any cyberattacks in the news over the past year Two-thirds... read more

Open Haus: Central Management [VIDEO]

By any measure, cyber threats against businesses are escalating in both volume and diversity, as the attackers executing these schemes have become more sophisticated and adept at exploiting vulnerabilities in corporate networks and endpoints. But despite this wave of new threats, the top foe of network administrators is actually a familiar one – employees themselves. An unaware employee, a vulnerable endpoint and some human error, precipitated by relentless social engineering, is exactly what opportunistic hackers hope for, and this combination can be more dangerous than any external threat alone. Remember, social engineering was effective against the director of the CIA, who was duped by relatively basic techniques, so why wouldn’t it work against unassuming employees? For network administrators, the key to reducing the impact of human error is to implement remote access technology that stops the spread of a breach before it can dramatically affect the rest of the network. To gain that additional control and visibility, network administrators turn to centrally managed VPNs. How It Works In today’s BYOD workplace environments, where employees are constantly introducing new mobile devices and operating systems, IT administrators must enable remote access and support an assortment of different endpoints. Centrally managed VPNs make this possible, while remaining cost-effective and enhancing employee productivity. Central management is a core feature of the NCP Secure Enterprise Management. Sitting right in the hub of our remote access VPN solution, the central management function streamlines management of remote access security, making it more likely that the network administrator is able to prevent sensitive corporate data from being exposed, whether unknowingly by employees or by malicious hackers. With... read more

What’s in a Name? The ABCs of Mobile Device Management

BYOD? CYOD? Given the slew of acronyms flying around mobile device management (which, of course, goes by the acronym “MDM”), you’d be forgiven for losing track of what some of these actually stand for, much less the concepts they represent. As offices increasingly embrace digital technology and enable more employees to work remotely, mobile devices like phones and tablets, not to mention laptops, have increasingly phased out the traditional desktop computer. But this paradigm shift is also opening a lot of sore spots and potential security vulnerabilities around corporate data– after all, it may be more convenient for employees to be able to send work emails from their personal phones, but what kind of liability does that create for the company when their sensitive material is stored in an employee’s private cloud storage? This raises further questions about where exactly a company should expect to draw the line between personal and business use on a mobile device. The business should allow a certain degree of convenience for the employee using their device, but at the same time, it’s important to ensure there are adequate security protocols in place. To that end, it’s worth dissecting just what exactly your MDM options are: BYOD: Under a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy, employees use their own personal phones or tablets for business purposes. This policy provides the greatest flexibility to employees in terms of familiarity – it’s their own phone, after all – but it also raises some privacy concerns, for both the company and the user. In fact, 57 percent of employees polled in a Bitglass survey said they opted out of their company’s... read more

As the Dust Settles: The Value of Secure Remote Access in the Hours After a Cyberattack

The first 24 hours after a cyberattack are chaotic. The investigations and conclusions will come far down the road, but in the immediate aftermath of an attack, the entire organization is in reaction mode. The public relations team will update media members hungry for additional details. If an attack affects an organization’s own employees, the human resources department will issue alerts internally. The legal team will remain on standby to ensure regulatory requirements are met, offer counsel and guide the organization through the first few days of what is likely to be a process lasting many years. For the IT department, meanwhile, those first few hours are all about containment – discovering the origin of an attack, isolating or stopping its harmful effects, and securing IT systems to assure continuity. Yet, in many cases, victims of cyberattacks aren’t taking these critical first steps. According to a new survey by the SANS Institute, only 59 percent of organizations are able to contain attacks within 24 hours and more than half claim to be dissatisfied with the length of time it takes for them to contain and recover from an attack. Even the federal government doesn’t really have a perfectly coordinated strategy for responding to these events. As last summer’s hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) showed, the government isn’t well equipped to react quickly to emerging threats and successful attacks, and individual agencies don’t always take ownership of a coordinated response. Fortunately, most businesses don’t have such a burden. Most are more agile than the government, and therefore better positioned to respond quickly, even if the findings of... read more

CIA Director’s Hacked Email Shows Need for Multi-Factor Authentication

There’s a certain irony to the way the U.S. government approaches encryption and data privacy for its citizens, while simultaneously falling victim to major data breaches itself through embarrassing security lapses. Up until recently, law enforcement agencies like the FBI had lobbied hard for companies like Apple and Google to be forced to program encryption “backdoors” into their services, like iMessage, so that they could listen in on the otherwise-blocked communications of suspected criminals or terrorists. Silicon Valley’s response (and what the White House eventually sided with) was that opening a “backdoor” for law enforcement is tantamount to ultimately opening a backdoor for anyone. The FBI and NSA counter-argued that they would be in control of the keys to those doors, and that user data would be safe with them. That was a hard argument for privacy advocates to accept then, and it’s even less likely to win over anyone now in light of a new data breach scandal. The Guardian recently reported that a pair of hackers managed to access the personal AOL email account of John Brennan, director of the CIA. Not only that, but the data that was compromised through the breach – which included the names, contact information, security clearances and Social Security numbers of around 20 CIA employees – was leaked and published to Twitter. While the contents of these emails were, in Fortune’s words, “mundane” and “peanuts as far as actual revelations and public interest is concerned,” the fact remains that a pair of reportedly teenage hackers managed to hack into the email account of the U.S. Director of Central Intelligence. The joke... read more

Google’s ‘Android for Work’ BYOD Solution Requires VPN

Although Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not hitting the front page on a weekly basis anymore, it is still relevant. The hype may be over, but enterprises are now working to find practical remote access solutions for managing the variety of mobile devices utilized by employees at home and at work. BYOD policies often classify mobile devices according to their operating systems. Thus, administrators have to work with one of the following: Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows and BlackBerry. With Android for Work, Google is helping enterprises that deploy Android devices by offering a mix of apps, technologies and designs to separate and control business and personal use on mobile devices. Google uses elements of Samsung KNOX, specifically, mobile device management (MDM) and containerization technology, to separate work from personal data and apps within the device, similar to what BlackBerry 10 has been providing for some time. Android for Work also includes an enterprise version of Google Play, allowing employees to install only those apps that have been authorized by the network administrator. Personal and business use is separated by users logging in through different profiles. Once an application has been designated as a business app by the network administrator, it is possible to control data traffic and access rights. This does not affect other applications, since business apps are in their own separate area. Google devices with Android 5 (Lollipop) already have Android for Work integrated. Older versions of the operating system can be upgraded by downloading the app, available through the Google Play Store. Android uses the multiuser support in Lollipop, standard encryption and SELinux security... read more

The Lessons of Cybersecurity Awareness Month and What to Expect in the Year Ahead

For 11 years now, the U.S. government has recognized October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. While the original goal may have been to acknowledge the growing risks that cyberthreats pose to national security, it has – unfortunately – become all too clear in recent years that cybersecurity is an issue that affects not just government agencies, but anyone and everyone, regardless of industry. Consider how, in the last few years, claims of identity theft and tax fraud have skyrocketed, targeted data breaches at major companies – from big banks to retailers to healthcare providers – are compromising millions of records containing personally identifiable information (PII) and the IT departments responsible for safeguarding against these risks seem virtually powerless. And with businesses progressively moving their operations online – shifting email, files and other data into single-vendor cloud platforms like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps – these risks and their ripple effects will only continue to grow. As our lives become increasingly digital and interconnected, implementing proper cybersecurity and staying one step ahead of new threats will only become more important. To that end, and as Cybersecurity Awareness Month winds down, here are a few cyber risks you should put on your radar to protect yourself and your data in 2016: 1. BYOD Workplace Policies Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies may allow employees the freedom to use their own familiar phones, tablets or laptops for work purposes. But, it also presents a glaring security flaw when you consider that 43 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. don’t use any kind of password, PIN or pattern lock protection – let... read more

Plan, Install and Operate VPN Gateways in Accordance with the BSI’s Basic IT Security Manual

While the core focus of IT administrators may not be security, they are often tasked with looking after network security, leading them to sometimes feel overwhelmed. They might ask themselves: “How do I know where best to focus? How do I know if my approach is correct?” Fortunately, such questions can easily be answered. Have a look at the manual for basic IT security from the Federal Office for Information Security in Germany (BSI). It contains many answers to security questions that IT professionals may have, but unfortunately, not many are familiar with the almost 4,500 pages of information, covering almost all aspects of IT security. The beauty of the BSI manual is that it’s written fully independent of manufacturers and can be used in almost all system environments. Divided into building blocks, risks and approaches, the manual for basic IT security provides a well-organized introduction and a comprehensive explanation of how to handle IT security matters. German government agencies have to be certified through the BSI, and all other institutions and companies can also be certified. BSI standards are the basis for the certification, which is compatible with ISO 27001. The implementation is described in the BSI manual. If an expensive certification is not required, working with the manual for basic IT security makes sense because the manual is free of charge – the current version can be downloaded from the BSI website and an HTML version is also available. Also, the clear structure is a big plus. If companies lack adequate security planning and a holistic view of IT security, the BSI manual presents a standardized approach... read more

The BYOD Backlash: Enterprises Search for a New Mobile Device Management Standard

If corporate Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies are intended to be an acceptable compromise between employees and employers, why do both parties seem to be so consistently displeased with them? Let’s focus on employers, since they have final say as to what devices are permitted to access the corporate network. According to a study by CompTIA, BYOD has reached a breaking point. Fifty-three percent of enterprises now tell CompTIA that they have banned BYOD – up from 34 percent just two years ago. With that many employers banning BYOD outright, other initiatives have started to fill the vacuum. Believe it or not, some employers are finding themselves reverting back to how they handled mobile device management (MDM) years ago, before the infiltration of consumer devices into the workplace – by issuing work devices to employees. But what about the conventional wisdom that employees generally balk at corporate mobile technology, which may facilitate more secure remote access, but offers them little choice? As the CompTIA report found, some employees are actually open to using devices provided by the employer, on one condition – “if it is the same thing they would choose on their own.” What this shows is that even though a majority of businesses have banned BYOD, there’s still an opening for IT departments to provide employees with some degree of choice and flexibility in the mobile devices they use. And this degree of control is not through the physical device, but through the operating system – or rather, systems – that run on the device. One Device, Two Systems A container or partition solution is a newer form of... read more

How a Remote Access VPN Extends the Reach of Your IT Staff

What do the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Ashley Madison and Target have in common? They may seem entirely unrelated on the surface, but each organization has been a target of a high-profile data breach within the last year. Each new cyberattack is more proof that the threat landscape has diversified, leaving no industry, system or organization immune to vulnerabilities. The landscape would suggest that, now more than ever, organizations need nimble network security systems, supported by a disciplined IT staff that can keep up with the shifting state of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, while the threat landscape has clearly expanded in recent years, the IT security industry has yet to catch up and adapt to the quick rate of change. Across the board, there is a clear security skills shortage that has left IT professionals and their organizations without the necessary talent that they now require. In fact, 44 percent of organizations say that they have an inadequate number of networking and security staff with strong knowledge of both security and networking technology. Looking beyond these numbers, the problem is not necessarily a lack of skills, but rather, many organizations do not have ample personnel to field growing IT requests and security needs within their companies. To overcome this shortage, many organizations are seeking technologies that can augment their IT departments, without requiring extensive management by IT staff. Companies need easy-to-use solutions that largely run on their own and can be managed seamlessly – whether they are preventing a network hack or data breach, or merely enabling a company to function on a daily basis. Let’s take a... read more

Open Haus: Graphical User Interface

Not long ago, the old aphorism “look but don’t touch” applied to computers and mobile devices. There were no touch screens, no tapping or pinching, no complicated gestures a user could issue with their fingertips. All that touching a screen would do was leave behind fingerprints. That all changed in 2007, when Apple brought touch screens into the mainstream with the first-generation iPhone, back then a first-of-its-kind touch-screen smartphone. Since then, keyboards have all but vanished from smartphones, and touch screens are now replacing or augmenting keyboards on larger devices. Global shipments of touch-screen displays are expected to double from 1.3 billion in 2012 to 2.8 billion in 2016. Already, touch-screen displays have moved from smartphones to tablets to, increasingly, desktops and laptops. Even as far back as 2013, one in 10 laptops were already equipped with a touch screen. Given this landscape, any program that runs on smartphones, tablets or computers now needs to be touch-screen compatible – that is to say, it requires a touch-screen compatible, graphically intuitive display that can also be scaled to whatever device the user has. Users demand this functionality, and users of NCP engineering’s remote access VPN clients now have access to just that for employees working on-the-go on a range of devices. How It Works Enhanced touch-screen compatibility is a core update to the latest version of the NCP Secure Clients that is intended to improve the user experience on touch-screen devices, such as Windows tablets and smartphones. Displays within NCP VPN clients are also intuitive and easy-to-use. Independent of the device or operating system, all remote access VPN clients provide... read more

How Far Does Your Cybersecurity Umbrella Extend?

Network administrators: No matter how impenetrable you think your network defenses are, there are always going to be remote access vulnerabilities that threaten the integrity of your walls. Often, it’s a threat that originates from outside the immediate range of your defenses, and it’s one you may not have any visibility into. Recently, these threats have started to originate from third-party partners – a company’s vendors, suppliers, agencies, firms and other outside service providers. These are often smaller companies with less sophisticated remote access defenses that, when they become a target of cyber crooks, provide a path for an attacker right into the heart of another company’s network. Target found this out the hard way, after its network was breached when attackers gained entry by acquiring network credentials though a third-party HVAC vendor. So did Lowe’s, after one of its vendors backed up customer data on an unsecure server and unknowingly exposed the information to the broader Internet. Goodwill, too, suffered a breach because of a vendor, this time a retail POS operator that acknowledged its managed service environment “may have experienced unauthorized access.” While it may seem odd for big-name companies to provide such privileged access to third parties and, in the process, put themselves in harm’s way – either deliberately or inadvertently – it’s actually quite a common situation. As Brian Krebs reported in the aftermath of the Target breach, large retailers often provide HVAC and energy vendors with privileged network access so they can alert retailers around-the-clock in the event something goes wrong in one of their buildings. As a source told Krebs, “Vendors need to... read more

Open Haus: Updated VPN Clients and Server

Of all the factors that would prevent an organization from launching a comprehensive remote access security strategy – limited budget, unfamiliarity with emerging threat vectors, lack of employee buy-in – the remote access tools themselves should not be the reason that a strategy has trouble gaining a foothold within an organization. The experience of using a remote access VPN needs to be an easy one – it should be straightforward for network administrators to centrally manage, and simple for users to deploy without interrupting their workflow. As Citrix’s Kurt Roemer recently told eWeek, “The industry needs to preconfigure for security and employ services that keep security settings optimal and balanced against user experience.” In the last month, NCP engineering has issued three product updates, all intended to improve remote access security for enterprises by enhancing administrator features and the end-user experience: NCP Secure Clients, Version 10.02 This update supports users of Windows 10, and is the first IPsec VPN Client compatible with Microsoft’s newest operating system. For users, Version 10.02 of the NCP Secure Entry Clients offers: Optimized Internet of Things (IoT) configuration Alerts when the preferred network is no longer available Improved user experience through a touchscreen-compatible interface The option to eliminate dual network connections Password- and PIN-free logon with machine certificates Meanwhile, administrators benefit from improved troubleshooting, through enhanced search log functionality, and immediate configuration updates. NCP Secure Client – Juniper Edition, Version 10.02 For users who access network connections through Juniper VPN gateways, Version 10.02 of the NCP Secure Client – Juniper Edition offers many of the same enhancements above, while providing seamless and secure remote... read more

Smaller Scale Is No Defense: Why SMBs Should Assume They’re Already Targets of Cyberattackers

You would be hard pressed to go a month without hearing about a new data breach or major cyberattack in the headlines. These incidents occur with such regularity nowadays that seemingly every industry has been affected – healthcare, education, retail and even amusement parks. There are variations across all these attacks, from the threat vectors themselves to the protections that may have faltered. But, the common thread is that these companies are generally big names with targets on their backs. This trend also tends to overshadow an even more worrisome one: data breaches occurring at small and medium-sized businesses. While SMBs may exist on a relatively small scale, they certainly don’t go unnoticed by hackers. The numbers actually show that three out of four attacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and that each incident carries an average price tag of $20,752, according to the National Small Business Association (NSBA). The NSBA’s Jason Oxman elaborated further in comments to the Los Angeles Times last year: “We are absolutely facing an epidemic of attacks on our nation’s infrastructure and attempts to gain access to information. But smaller merchants tend to be easier and more attractive targets for cyber criminals.” This is because SMBs are less likely to be well-versed in security protocols and because they won’t get much attention from the media, thereby allowing the attacks to continue under relative quiet. Compared to enterprises, SMBs may also lack the resources to detect and respond quickly to attacks. The fallout can result in broken websites, bad customer reviews and narrower profit margins – all consequences that can completely devastate... read more

Seamless Roaming or Always On: The Remote Access VPN Feature Digital Nomads May Be Missing

In remote working environments, the Digital Nomad isn’t tied to a desk or cubicle, but he has close relationships with his coworkers. The Digital Nomad works exclusively from mobile devices that connect wirelessly to the Internet, and she’s still able to finish all her tasks on time. For now, these workers are generally the exception to the rule, but that may not be the case for much longer. One-third of business leaders anticipate that by 2020, more than half of their full-time workforce will be working remotely. It’s not difficult to see why remote work is so popular. Today, Digital Nomads can be more nomadic than ever, setting up new mobile “offices” wherever there’s a network connection. They don’t even need a hard surface to put their device on or an outlet to plug into. But, what they do need for security purposes is a remote access VPN to enable a secure connection back to the corporate network. VPNs are reliable, but the problem is, network interruptions have long seemed inevitable. They get in the way and disrupt the user’s computing session. That’s when a VPN feature known as seamless roaming or always on comes into play, allowing a user to move between different networks without losing the connection. The Value of Seamless Roaming Whether you’re a finance executive fighting dead zones as you work on your laptop from a train, or a sales professional working from an airport across a spotty Wi-Fi connection, each time there’s a network disruption, the user has to manually restart the VPN connection to continue working. This is why seamless roaming is no... read more

NCP engineering Earns ‘Champion’ Rating in techconsult Report

This year, cyberattacks are expected to rain down at a rate of more than 117,000 per day, adding up to more than 42.8 million total incidents. As these attacks are launched and subsequently investigated, the root cause of many of them will turn out to be the result of employee action – basic human error – such as accidentally violating a remote access policy. With these figures in mind, the new report “Security Solution Vendors 2015,” conducted by German analyst firm techconsult, analyzes the entire network, data, storage and endpoint security landscape, while identifying top providers and solutions that are on the front lines protecting businesses from these 42.8 million attacks. The report bodes well for NCP engineering and our remote access VPN solutions. Techconsult found that NCP “dominates” the network security space, while highlighting how NCP’s Secure Enterprise Solution “win…clearly against the competition” from other VPN solution providers. This assessment is reflected by NCP’s presence in the “Champion” quadrant, comprising all security solution vendors, based on evaluations from the market and users, as well as experts. NCP also earns a “Champion” rating when only network security vendors – those with VPN, external firewalls and Unified Threat Management (UTM) solutions – are assessed. NCP is the top solution provider in this quadrant, and we stand out for our 100 percent user satisfaction rating. In the Virtual Private Network quadrant, NCP again earns top marks and a “Champion” rating, with the report noting, “NCP has been able to set itself above the rest with the experts’ evaluations based on its excellent solution assessment as well as its company-specific framework conditions.”... read more

How One Challenging Gig with My Band Prepared Me for a Career in Cybersecurity

Sometimes, connections between work and play appear when they’re least expected. You wouldn’t expect, for example, a guitar-shredding metal-head to carry over much from his time on stage to his career in cybersecurity, but that’s exactly what happened to Julian Weinberger, CISSP and Director of Systems Engineering for NCP engineering. Julian isn’t performing in the U.S. anymore, but during his time in Germany, one gig in particular brought so many challenges that he still thinks about it today. We sat down with Julian to discuss what happened that night. What specific event involving your band has taught you the most about working in security and business continuity? A few years ago, after hustling to line up free gigs, I landed my first paid performance. Unfortunately, I ran into myriad unanticipated issues: a string on my first guitar broke, my backup guitar didn’t work, my cable made weird noises, and, as if that wasn’t enough, my in-ear system stopped working. Although none of these issues were my fault, they wreaked havoc on the gig – and when you’re hired to entertain, you risk not being paid if you’re unable to deliver, regardless of the circumstances. It’s similar with enterprise network security. If things break — and they will — you need to be prepared with a plan to fix it. So how did you respond on stage? And what did that teach you about security? When performing on stage, technical difficulties must be fixed within seconds, and it’s the same case with security. For instance, if your microphone cuts out – or worse, your organization is faced with security issues... read more

Open Haus: Automatic Hotspot Logon

If you were a hacker targeting a network, which would be most appealing – a network contained in a residential building, an office or corporate facility, or a public place? The information contained on the network of a residential building probably wouldn’t be particularly valuable, and it would also be well-protected. You’d face even more security if trying to attack a corporate network, so that probably wouldn’t be your best option either. You’d probably target a public network – one in an airport, coffee shop or hotel – over which users dealing with sensitive information would try to connect, perhaps without having the same security protections they would have if they were in their home or office. Public networks can be vulnerable, and they do make popular targets. Consider all the possible threats – from snooping and evil twin schemes to narrowband jamming and replay attacks – hackers can deploy against these networks. It’s also important to consider that there are now many more public hotspots than there were even a few years ago – global Wi-Fi hotspots are expected to triple from 1.3 million in 2011 to 5.8 million this year. For business users in particular, hotspot connections are ideal for when they’re at day-long events (when using mobile data on their phone or tablet would quickly drain their battery) or when they travel abroad (to avoid costly roaming fees). For these users, and for anyone else who relies on hotspots for secure remote access, NCP engineering has integrated Automatic Hotspot Logon into its NCP Secure Client. How It Works A safeguard protecting the end device against attack... read more

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