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3 Disruptive Trends Driving Demand for Automated Cyber Security for SMBs

Organizations typically struggle to provide a holistic security posture. There are many security vendors providing exciting and innovative solutions. But from a customer perspective, they often become various point solutions solving several unique problems. This often becomes cumbersome, expensive and unmanageable. Some of the most recent trends in this area are discussed in this blog, which could bring about even further complexity to an organizations security posture.

IoT the new mobile?

Internet of Things (IoT) brings similar challenges to the industry, to those which mobile introduced over the last eight years. These endpoints are non general-purpose computing devices often with a specific function, but typically have an operating system, applications and internet access. Unlike Mobile, IoT devices do not usually have the same high level of user interaction, so breaches are more likely to go unnoticed.  The result of poor security controls can result in similar events, to the recent IoT botnet which caused havoc to major online services, including Twitter, Spotify and GitHub.

The industry should look to the lessons from securing mobile and apply these to IoT. This is most important in the consumer space, but as with mobile we’ll see risks arise in the commercial also, including HVAC, alarm systems and even POS devices.

Mobile and Desktop Convergence

More focus needs to be spent on unifying the identity, access and controls for mobile and desktop security. As this often requires custom integration across differing solutions and products, it’s difficult to maintain and troubleshoot when things go wrong.

Some solutions only focus on data protection, endpoint lockdown or only on mobile applications. By themselves, none of these go far enough, and software vendors should aim to provide more open ecosystems. By exposing well documented APIs to customers and integration partners, this would allow for better uniformity across services, with a richer workflow and improved security.

Cloud and SaaS

As we see endpoints split across mobile and desktop, customers are rapidly splitting data across a hybrid IT environment. While we expect hybrid to be the norm for many years to come, organizations need to consider how the security and usability can be blended, in a way that security controls don’t become too fragmented, or result in a poor experience for users and unmanageable for IT.

How SMBs can automate breach detection and prevention

The impact of a security breach to the SMB is significant. When large organizations detect fraudulent activities, they expect to write off a fair percentage of the cost. On the flip side, the impact of a $50,000-$200,000 incident to a small business could be enough for it to cease trading. To the attacker, SMBs are a relatively easy target; as they may not have the expertise or man-power to protect against an advanced and persistent threat.

For 25 years, SonicWall has maintained a rich security portfolio, which is primarily focused on delivering enterprise-grade security for our SMB customers. Our vision is to simplify and automate, to solve complex security challenges — all while meeting the constantly evolving threats. It’s an ongoing arms race after all!

Taking full advantage of our vast database of threat intelligence data, coupled with our advanced research from SonicWall Capture Labs team, we ensure our customers of all sizes can detect and prevent from these threats.  The breadth and depth of our portfolio, also includes those that specifically help with mobile, cloud and IoT security.

Stop ransomware and zero-day cyber attacks

One of our biggest strengths is combatting advanced persistent threats, ransomware and zero-day cyber attacks with the award-winning SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) multi-engine sandbox. Capture ATP is now available as a security service across each product in our portfolio, providing a unique protection solution across a multitude of scenarios.

Simplify endpoint protection

For endpoint protection, we are also very excited with our recent partnership agreement with SentinelOne.  This brings the highest level of zero-day malware prevention on the endpoint while concurrently simplifying solutions for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

To learn more about how SonicWall helps our customers implement mobile security, download: Empowering Mobile Workforce to Collaborate Securely.

Practical Defense for Cyber Attacks and Lessons from 2017 SonicWall Annual Threat Report

The 2017 SonicWall Annual Threat Report, published last week, covers the evolution of the cybersecurity landscape through 2016. Based on the data from the SonicWall Capture Labs Threat network, the report highlights the advances of the criminal and the defense sides of the global cyber security landscape.

For example, law enforcement apprehended the writers of the popular Angler exploit kit and POS malware dropped significantly, as the industry adopted better security practices and technology. This prompted a wholly expected move from the malware writers as they shifted their efforts into new opportunities ripe for profit –such as ransomware, which emerged as the attack of choice for 2016. Read SonicWall President and CEO, Bill Conner’s, Annual Threat Report blog from last week for a great overview.

We can track much of this evolution in the cybersecurity landscape with the mantra “follow the [easy] money.” In other words, the majority of attacks will move to where the attackers can make the most money with the least amount of effort. A good method of defensive security thinking, therefore, is “How can I make it significantly more difficult for someone to make money off me and my network than from someone else on the Internet?” This may remind some readers about the joke where you have to outrun the other person, not the bear, in order to survive.

So how do you stay ahead?

Go through the following checklist and evaluate whether you are an easy target:

  1. Cover the known attacks: This is foundational. Prevent previously seen malware from being deployed against your users by the lazy attackers who are just looking for an easy opportunity. Protect *all* networks in your organization including small branch offices and remote workers. You must treat those as you would treat your primary corporate site; otherwise, you have a soft side in your defense with a direct route back to your network. Top-notch gateway anti-malware, intrusion prevention and botnet traffic filtering will help you cover these previously-seen threats.
  2. Cover the unknown attacks: Now you are looking for advanced malware. This is the cutting edge. Network sandboxing technology analyzes suspicious files to detect malware that has not yet been observed, studied and classified. For example, if network sandboxing observes bad behavior from a suspicious file, such as encrypting everything in sight or an MS Word document that opens network connection, it can rule with a high degree of confidence that the file is malicious.
    • A few critical points about network sandboxing:
    • a. Invest in evasion-resistant sandboxing technologies. By combining multiple sandboxing technologies, you reduce the probability of evasion virtually to zero. This is analogous to running an MRI, a CAT scan and an X-ray simultaneously. Attackers know that sandboxing is starting to be widely deployed, so they look to evade low-tech “checklist” type sandboxes.
    • b. Invest in sandboxing that does not just ring the alarm, but also blocks the threat. Otherwise, you just receive a notification that an advanced piece of malware got through two minutes ago and “Good Luck!” Technology must work for you – sandboxing must block until it reaches a verdict on the unknown file.
    • c. Deploy everywhere – network and email: Our Threat Report found that the most popular payload for malicious email campaigns in 2016 was ransomware (Locky, deployed by Nemucod). You must look for known and unknown malware in your network and email/messaging traffic to cover all your bases.
  3. Cover known and unknown attacks inside encrypted traffic: How much of your traffic is SSL/TLS or SSH? 20%? 50%? 70%? Whichever percentage is correct for you, that is the amount of network traffic that you’re letting in un-inspected if you do not actively intercept that traffic. Malware writers know that this is emerging as the soft spot in many networks. Cover all your bases by looking for known and unknown malware inside of encrypted channels.
  4. Establish a ring of trust by segmenting off your IoT devices: A camera is a computer that can record and send video. A thermostat is a computer that controls temperature. A phone is a computer that can make phone calls. A “smart” refrigerator is a… you get the point. You cannot escape the proliferation of IoT devices in your network, and while the IoT vendors are wrapping their heads around security, you can control your IoT risk by segmenting those devices from the rest of your real network. Grant access on an as-needed basis.

Ransomware Attack Attempts

After reading the full 2017 SonicWall Annual Threat Report, evaluate whether your current network, email and mobile defenses cover the points above and keep you ahead of the attackers. Can they make easy money off you and your users?

SonicWall has technologies that can make you a significantly more difficult target by automating advanced protection and by turning breach detection into breach prevention.

SonicWall Next-Generation and UTM firewalls help to look for known and unknown threats on the network, on both unencrypted and on SSL/TLS encrypted traffic. SonicWall’s line of Access Security solutions can secure mobile users and facilitate proper network and IoT device segmentation.

SonicWall Capture ATP is an award-winning network sandboxing service that runs on SonicWall firewalls and Email Security 9.0 products. Capture utilizes multiple analysis engines with block-until-verdict capability, ensuring that unknown malware does not get through and impact your business. Due to the cloud nature of the service, the intelligence collected from the SonicWall Email Security product line strengthens the protection for firewall users and vice versa – it is a self-reinforcing, learning network.

SonicWall Annual Threat Report Reveals the State of the Cybersecurity Arms Race

In the war against cyber crime, no one gets to avoid battle. That’s why it’s crucial that each of us is proactive in understanding the innovation and advancements being made on both sides of the cybersecurity arms race. To that end, today we introduced the 2017 SonicWall Annual Threat Report, offering clients, businesses, cybersecurity peers and industry media and analysts a detailed overview of the state of the cybersecurity landscape.

To map out the cybersecurity battlefield, we studied data gathered by the SonicWall Global Response Intelligence Defense (GRID) Threat Network throughout the year. Our findings supported what we already knew to be true – that 2016 was a highly innovative and successful year for both security teams and cyber criminals.

Security Industry Advances

Security teams claimed a solid share of victories in 2016. For the first time in years, our SonicWall GRID Threat Network detected a decline in the volume of unique malware samples and the number of malware attack attempts.  Unique samples collected in 2016 fell to 60 million compared with 64 million in 2015, whereas total attack attempts dropped to 7.87 billion from 8.19 billion in 2015. This is a strong indication that many security industry initiatives are helping protect companies from malicious breaches.  Below are some of the other areas where progress is clearly being made.

Decline of POS Malware Variants

Cybersecurity teams leveraged new technology and procedural improvements to gain important ground throughout the year. If you were one of the unlucky victims of the point-of-sale (POS) system attack crisis that shook the retail industry in 2014, you’ll be happy to learn that POS malware has waned enormously as a result of heightened security measures. The SonicWall GRID Threat Network saw the number of new POS malware variants decrease by 88 percent since 2015 and 93 percent since 2014. The primary difference between today’s security procedures and those that were common in 2014 is the addition of chip-and-PIN and chip-and-signature technology particularly in the United States, which undoubtedly played a big role in the positive shift.

Growth of SSL/TLS-Encrypted Traffic

The SonicWall GRID Threat Network observed that 62 percent of web traffic was Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) encrypted in 2016, making consumers and businesses safer in terms of data privacy and integrity while on the web. This is a trend we expect to continue in 2017, based on Google’s announcement that it has a long-term plan to begin marking HTTP traffic in its Chrome browser as “not secure.” NSS Labs estimates that 75 percent of web interactions will be HTTPS by 2019.

Decline of Dominant Exploit Kits

We also saw the disappearance of major exploit kits Angler, Nuclear and Neutrino after cybersecurity investigations exposed the likely authors, leading to a series of arrests by local and international law enforcement agencies. The SonicWall GRID Threat Network observed some smaller exploit kits trying to rise to fill the void. By the third quarter of 2016, runner-up Rig had evolved into three versions employing a variety of obfuscation techniques. The blow that dominant exploit kit families experienced earlier in 2016 is a significant win for the security industry.

Cyber Criminal Advances

As with any arms race, advances made by the good guys are often offset by advances made by the bad guys. This is why it’s critical for companies to not become complacent and remain alert to new threats and learn how to counterattack. Below are some of the areas where cyber criminals showed their ability to innovate and exploit new ways to launch attacks.

Explosive Growth in Ransomware

Perhaps the area where cyber criminals advanced the most was in the deployment of ransomware. According the SonicWall GRID Threat Network, ransomware attacks grew 167 times since 2015, from 3.8 million in 2015 to 638 million in 2016. The reason for this increase was likely a perfect storm of factors, including the rise of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) and mainstream access to Bitcoin. Another reason might simply be that as cybersecurity teams made it difficult for cyber criminals to make money in other ways, they had to look for a new paycheck.

Exploited Vulnerabilities in SSL/TLS Encryption

While the growth of SSL/TLS encryption is overall a positive trend, we can’t forget that it also offers criminals a prime way to sneak malware through company firewalls, a vulnerability that was exploited 72 percent more often in 2016 than in 2015, according to NSS Labs. The reason this security measure can become an attack vector is that most companies still do not have the right infrastructure in place to perform deep packet inspection (DPI) in order to detect malware hidden inside of SSL/TLS-encrypted web sessions. Companies must protect their networks against this hidden threat by upgrading to next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) that can inspect SSL/TLS traffic without creating performance issues.

IoT Became a New Threat Network

Many people who enjoy using Reddit, Netflix, Twitter or Spotify experienced another of our top threat trends firsthand. In October 2016, cyber criminals turned a massive number of compromised IoT devices into a botnet called Mirai that they then leveraged to mount multiple record-setting distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The SonicWall GRID Threat Network found that at the height of the Mirai botnet usage in November 2016, the United States was by far the most targeted, with 70 percent of DDoS attacks aimed at the region, followed by Brazil (14 percent) and India (10 percent). The root cause leading to the Mirai attacks was unquestionably the lax security standards rampant in IoT device manufacturing today. Specifically, these devices do not prompt their owners to change their passwords, which makes them uncommonly vulnerable.

Combatting the New Cyber Threats

It’s worth noting that the technology already exists today to solve many of the new challenges cyber criminals threw at victims in 2016.  SSL/TLS traffic can be inspected for encrypted malware by NGFWs with high-performance SSL/TLS DPI capabilities.  For any type of new advanced threat like ransomware, it’s important to understand that traditional sandboxing solutions will only detect potential threats, but not prevent them. In order to prevent potential breaches, any network sandbox should block traffic until it reaches a verdict before it passes potential malware through to its intended target.  SonicWall’s family of NGFWs with SSL/DPI inspection coupled with the SonicWall Capture multi-engine cloud sandbox service is one approach to provide real-time breach prevention for new threats that emerge in the cybersecurity arms race.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re already taking an important first step toward prevention, as knowledge has always been one of the greatest weapons in the cybersecurity arms race. Take that knowledge and share it by training every team member in your organization on security best practices for email and online usage. Implement the technology you need to protect your network. And most importantly, stay up-to-date on the latest threats and cybersecurity innovations shaping the landscape. If you know where your enemy has been, you have a much better shot of guessing where he’s going.

Do You Trust Endpoints That Go Shopping?

We are midway through the shopping season this year and already online retail shopping is having record sales. According to Adobe, final numbers indicate that Black Friday surpassed estimates, with $3.34 billion – 21.6 percent growth, year-over-year. Mobile accounted for $1.2 billion, a 33 percent increase from the year before.

Gartner predicts that 70 percent of mobile employees will use their personal smart devices to conduct work by 2018.

These are two seemingly disparate trends but what do they mean for organizations and their cyber security posture?

In another blog, my colleague Scott Grebe explored the security risks that arise when employees are shopping online at work within the corporate network. In this blog, we’ll explore the security risks that arise when employees shop online outside the corporate network.

Organizations are increasingly embracing BYOD for its obvious advantages, but this gives rise to a key gap in the security posture: How do you secure smartphones, tablets and laptops when they leave the confines of your corporate cyber security infrastructure? CSOs must make sure that the right security solutions and policies are implemented to close this gap.

Recent high profile data breaches have put cyber security under the spotlight and organizations have invested in best-of-breed solutions and deployed their defense-in-depth strategy to mitigate today’s advanced threats. Solutions such as next-generation firewall, Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), sandboxing and email security are in place to protect against zero-day malware and ransomware, thus making it significantly difficult for the majority of hackers to penetrate. No points for guessing where these threat actors will target next – smartphones, tablets, laptops or even home computers that employees use for remote work. According to McAfee Labs 2016 Threats Predictions report: If attackers really want to get at your data, but find themselves blocked at every attempt against the corporate data center, then the relatively insecure home systems of the employees become the next logical target.”

Employees are spending more time shopping online using a work-supplied or personal device. The next time an employee connects to a public Wi-Fi network to do a price check on a deal, or just uses his/her relatively insecure home network to shop, it could expose the organization’s network. Just last week, it was revealed that 1 million Google accounts were compromised by Android malware. Hundreds of counterfeit retail apps were discovered in Apple’s App Store. A seemingly innocuous app or even a rogue SMS text would suffice to comprise the device and, just like the trojan horse, the device would be given entry into the corporate network.

It is difficult to control the shopping mania that infects everyone around this time of the year, but organizations can leverage the security solutions that are already deployed to better protect the endpoints even when they are remote. SonicWall’s Secure Mobile Access (SMA) solution provides access security to complement your network security, by delivering secure access to users from anywhere and from any device. With SMA, organizations can protect their corporate network every time employees go online by following certain best practices:

  • For trusted laptops and desktops, use the redirect-all mode on the SSL-VPN solution to drive all traffic through the corporate security infrastructure.
  • For untrusted BYO devices, educate employees to use features such as browser-based clientless access to remote desktops for secure browsing.
  • For mobile devices, configure policies to allow access only to whitelisted apps.

Further, when these endpoint re-enter the corporate network, SMA interrogates the device and performs health checks to permit access or to quarantine for remediation. By implementing these best practices, organizations can leverage their corporate infrastructure such as next-gen firewall with SonicWall Capture sandboxing technology, bringing security anywhere employees’ devices go. Ready or not, mobile workers and BYOD are here to stay.

To learn more on how SMA can protect the corporate networks from “trusted” and “untrusted” endpoints, download and read our executive brief.