Friday, August 24, 2018
Almost one year ago, the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council called for the government to take a unified stance against escalating cyberthreats. In a Sept. 2017 letter to the President, the council maintained that cyber capabilities are fragmented, uncoordinated and even duplicated across Federal agencies. “This presents a national security challenge unlike any other,” council members wrote. “Industry access to federal resources is often hindered by multiple technical, legal, liability, and information sharing constraints.”
Since then, a steady stream of attacks against commercial networks has continued unabated. Two recently disclosed attacks were against cellular carrier T-Mobile and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, a fast-casual chain owned by Darden Restaurants. T-Mobile reportedly learned of a database intrusion on Aug. 20, 2018, resulting in the probable theft of customer names and account information. Cheddars disclosed on Aug.16, 2018, that an unauthorized party gained access to its corporate networks, potentially obtaining credit card information from customers in 23 states.
Ryan Wilk, vice president of delivery, customer success at NuData Security, a Mastercard company, said that stolen personal data and financial information can feed a cybercrime pipeline for years. “This is not just a problem for Cheddar’s and their customers, but also for the payment card providers and any other organizations with whom the victims hold accounts,” he added.
Security analysts noted similarities in attack vectors against POS systems and other critical infrastructures across the United States; they recommend adopting similar security postures to protect against a variety of threats. “The measures we take to protect our customers are the same regardless of whether they are the potential target of a financial or non-financial attack group,” stated Mark Carl, CEO at ControlScan. “While the groups derive their funding from different sources, the tools they use to perpetrate the attacks are typically the same and require the same defensive mechanisms to prevent them.”
Carl said most POS security breaches are perpetrated by criminals seeking fast financial gain and typically have no relation to state-sponsored attack groups that target infrastructure. “As with everything else, you should follow the money,” he stated. “Financial attack groups are looking to gain money by deriving it or extorting it from entities, while attack groups that are seeking infrastructure targets are typically paid by the nation-states that they support.”
Gary Glover, vice president of assessments at SecurityMetrics, agreed that network and data security principles are essentially the same for any type of infrastructure. “Whether you're being hacked by hungry criminals who want a homestyle meal or by nation states attempting to sow terror and evil into the fabric of our great country, the defense is the same,” he said. “Implement basic and sound security layers around the infrastructure, then monitor and test those layers so you know they are still effective.”
Glover said he has seen the same network security errors over the years and advises companies to take an active role in monitoring and shoring up multilayered security methods. Carefully setting up secure remote access, strong firewall rules, complex passwords and updating systems frequently will ultimately make the difference between safe and compromised systems, he added.
Robert Lutz, vice president, marketing and business development at Systech Corp., noted that security is ever-evolving as attackers look for new ways to get into systems. “When bad guys find a vulnerability in a device, they share that information among themselves,” he said. “Companies need to ensure their devices are updatable and remove older static devices from their networks. The best devices automatically update themselves.”
Wilk suggested it is never too late to start using advanced security methods, such as multifactor authentication. These technologies may not prevent system breaches, but they protect consumers by authenticating them by other means than their personally identifiable information, he stated. “What companies can do at this point is to implement a different method of account protection to stop the damage after breaches,” Wilk said. “This is why businesses operating online are applying multilayered security strategies with passive biometrics and behavioral analytics.”
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