In cyberspace, there exists no safe harbor. Every organization with a digital presence is exposed like an island amidst an angry, implacable ocean that seems to send wave after wave of cyberattack.
The year 2021 arguably stands out as the most brutal and shocking in terms of cyberattacks. We have clearly entered an era of “assume breach” and “zero trust”. We need to not only rethink security, but recalibrate it based on the changes to technology happening around us.
Defenders at Disadvantage
While the ‘quantum leap’ in digital transformation galvanized by the pandemic has helped organizations innovate, unlock efficiencies, and enable more remote work, it’s also tipped the scales of the perpetual cyber arms race decidedly in favor of criminals. The Wall Street Journal called the hybrid workplace a “Cybersecurity Nightmare,” and characterized it as “a hacker’s dream—a constantly changing mix of office and remote workers, devices that move in and out of the company networks, and security staffs stretched thin.”
One sign of how unpalatable the odds have become is that some cyber insurance providers have thrown up their hands and exited the market altogether, while most others have hiked premiums and implemented more stringent qualifications.
An increasingly connected world ushers in higher efficiencies, improved collaboration, and new solutions, but the tradeoff can be increased interdependency and fragility. Phishing, fileless attacks, and ransomware are three soaring threat trends capitalizing on this new environment.
Digital transformation and remote working together have vastly expanded the attack surface, presenting threat actors with an environment ripe with vulnerabilities and planes of unmanaged privileged access to exploit. Human and machine privileges—long a security weak spot—are only getting more challenging to discover and control across this sprawling, decentralized IT landscape, since they can truly reside anywhere. It is easier than ever for attackers to find these security gaps and deliver malicious payloads, including ransomware, or steal credentials.
By compromising the weakest link – a remote worker, contractor, inadequately hardened system, overprivileged user, unmonitored machine identity, unsecured ports, a VPN vulnerability—an attacker can infiltrate an organization. In supply chain attacks, attacks can compromise a target’s software and then use it to infect thousands of customers, as happened with the SolarWinds and Kaseya breaches.
Outside of corporate environments, mobile and remote endpoints are also more exposed to on-device attacks. With thousands to millions of remote and mobile endpoints (whether corporate and employee-owned), used for work, the likelihood of experiencing a stolen or lost device is high.
The attackers’ path of least resistance is shifting. What strategies should over-stretched IT security teams and beleaguered help desks prioritize to reduce cyber risk, while making their organization more adaptable, resilient, and better poised to address the challenges and opportunities of the future?
How to Tip the Scales Back on Cyber Attackers
BeyondTrust has developed the Cybersecurity Survival Guide, 2022 Edition. Download your complimentary copy now for:
- Research-backed data and anecdotes illustrating how the attack surface is changing
- Analysis of how the threat actor’s path of least resistance is shifting
- A dissection of several world-shaking breaches over the past year and how they could have been dismantled at multiple steps
- 7 cybersecurity survival strategies that will enable you to adapt, close security gaps, reduce risk—all while achieving business benefits from the opportunities presented by the new normal
Some topics covered include hardening your hybrid IT environment, managing privileges and vulnerabilities, how to conduct a valid pentest of a remote workforce, VPN-less secure remote access, endpoint security, keys to empowering your service desk, and more .
Matt Miller, Director, Content Marketing
Matt Miller is Director, Content Marketing at BeyondTrust. Prior to BeyondTrust, he developed and executed marketing strategies on cybersecurity, cloud technologies, and data governance in roles at Accelerite (a business unit of Persistent Systems), WatchGuard Technologies, and Microsoft. Earlier in his career Matt held various roles in IR, marketing, and corporate communications in the biotech / biopharmaceutical industry. His experience and interests traverse cybersecurity, cloud / virtualization, IoT, economics, information governance, and risk management. He is also an avid homebrewer (working toward his Black Belt in beer) and writer.