Raising Cyber Threat and Cyber Security awareness in 2019

1 min. read


This October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is commemorating its 15th year as an annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of Cyber Security. We asked our Cyber Security expert Remco Hobo what challenges businesses are facing when it comes to raising Cyber Threat and Cyber Security awareness.

What is your experience with raising Cyber Security Awareness?

As a network, security and cloud solutions provider, it is our responsibility to help our customers secure every aspect of their network in the most optimal way possible. In major service provider networks, for example, the focus might be on DDoS mitigation, load balancing and managed firewall services. While in the enterprise segment, customers try to find their way in an extensive landscape that is rapidly changing. With the rise of XaaS applications and TLS encryption, I see that maintaining control of data flows and protecting valuable data are becoming increasing challenges. Raising Cyber Security awareness is a crucial aspect of those challenges.

What should enterprises think about, when they consider launching a Cyber Security 2019 Awareness programme?

That Cyber Security is a shared responsibility. Cyber awareness is something that should be lived throughout an organization. Besides technological solutions and procedures, all employees need to be aware of how to identify a potential security risk and how to mitigate that risk. This can be done not only by sharing results of security assessments, but also by sharing best practices and demos of how threats were successfully mitigated, or by sharing examples of how malware and phishing works.

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What is the most common cyber threat that you notice people are unaware of?

During penetration testing campaigns, we still notice a substantial amount of people that click on phishing emails. Having email as a major communication channel within organizations, unfortunately, we have to conclude that many employees are still not fully aware of what the risks and potential damage of clicking phishing emails are.

Make sure your employees know how phishing emails work, what they look like, why they are so successful, and how to report them. Even though email has been around for decades now, sharing such insights and examples of phishing is still a very important and often forgotten aspect of raising awareness about cyber threats and cyber security.

What can you say about securing your smartphone from cyber threats?

Today, it is quite normal for employees to use and own one single phone, with both private and public apps. That phone could be compromised or simply go missing. By intelligently using mobile device management solutions, business apps can be very well secured. By doing so, no data can be copied from these apps and if the phone is misplaced, the business apps can be locked or wiped. This strongly mitigates the security risks for the enterprise when it comes to smartphone or mobile device usage. Besides that, I’d recommend running internal cyber awareness campaigns focussed on secure mobile device usage.

What quick tips could you give to people to raise their own cyber awareness?

Always think before you act. If something looks suspicious, report it to the security department within your organization. If someone asks if you can do them a ‘favour’ that is outside the company security policies, report it. Social engineering, which is the art of persuading people to do something or providing them to share sensitive information, still is the most powerful hacking tool there is. There’s also great podcasts and website out there that you could follow, to become more aware of what techniques are being used to gain access to networks, private information and sensitive data.

There's a lot of talk about new technologies such as Machine Learning disrupting the Cyber Security 2019 landscape. How could Machine Learning help businesses to improve their Cyber Security?

The current challenge we see with Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) solutions is that they are programmed to act upon something that has already occurred before. If a threat for instance is being detected for the first time, this requires a manual action to be performed with most SIEM solutions.

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This is where machine learning comes in. Machine Learning will change the security landscape as we know it. It can be deployed to learn what ‘normal’ behavior is within an organization and its network. The caveat is that malware might already be present as part of that ‘normal’ behaviour. Therefore Machine Learning needs to be complemented with threat intelligence information. The powerful combination of Machine Learning and advanced threat intelligence information systems is that it has the ability to take action immediately on an event that has not been seen or detected before. An example of Machine Learning used is Crowdstrike's Falcon Prevent solution.

What cyber security trend in 2019 would you advise enterprises to watch?

2018 was a very interesting year because of GDPR. In 2019, with more and more traffic being encrypted, building ´in-depth defences´ is something that rings true more than ever. Therefore, developments in Endpoint Protection, Endpoint Detection and Response Solutions (EDR) will become trends to follow and markets to watch in 2019. That's because these solutions will not only identify malware but will also be able to take immediate and effective action.

These actions consist of isolating and neutralizing the threat, but also ensuring that relevant logging data is stored. This helps specialists to trace back an incident to its source and enables detailed reporting capabilities, allowing SOC teams to hunt down cyber threats within the organization.

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