Internet of Things raises fresh security challenges for industry

For many years industries like oil and gas, electricity, agriculture and utilities have relied on operational communications infrastructure outside the main corporate network to collect data and provide supervisory control. Known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems the data they collect leads to efficient allocation of resources, monitors safety conditions and improves operational decision-making. But now, with the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, industrial organizations are eager to deploy new wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to collect even more data from field assets in remote, geographically dispersed locations. The number of sensors and data points in industrial networks looks set to multiply exponentially overnight. As a consequence, there will be more access points than ever before. Security, therefore, will be an important factor in determining the overall success of IoT deployment.

Is Industry 4.0 Ready for the Ransomware Threat?

Ransomware is the latest trend in criminal malware. It infects computers, encrypts data and demands a ransom payment in the form of bitcoins. The encryption is so strong that it has not yet been circumvented. Locky and other ransomware have the potential to become much more than an annoyance.

Recently one case was reported where patient data was encrypted at a hospital. That might seem bad enough but what would happen if computers that control medical devices are infected by the virus and they show a ransom letter instead of doing their job? Documents, photographs, films and other personal data are usually the prime targets for encryption rather than system files and applications. However, databases and license key files have also fallen victim to unauthorized encryption.

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.

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...

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...