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    Author Archive - Raimund Genes



    Jun5
    12:03 am (UTC-7)   |    by

    Last month, there was a very interesting decision out of the European Court of Justice. The decision established what can be called the “right to be forgotten“. People can now ask search engines like Google to remove links from search results about them.

    So, for example, say you are now a successful businessman. However, the first search results for your name is a slightly embarrassing incident that took place in your youth. Now, you can ask Google to “forget” about that incident so it won’t show up first when someone searches for your name.

    You can debate whether this is a good idea or not. Europeans like myself tend to think this is a good idea – after all, who else should control your data but you, right? Americans tend to look at it as a free speech issue. There is a cultural divide here that will not be easy to resolve.

    What it does teach us, though, is how much data there is out there about all of us. Our web browsing, our purchases, our personal information – it’s all out there in the hands of various companies. And what are they doing with it? There’s an adage that says that if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. The real customers are advertisers who want to sell you whatever it is they’re selling.

    Now, some will say that this isn’t all bad. After all, don’t you get free services and more relevant advertising? How can this be a bad thing?

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing either. What it has to be is an informed decision by users – that they give up some of their data in exchange for some service of value to them. Today, it’s hard to say that is the case – too often, the allure of “free” trumps everything else, and people will give up data about themselves without being completely aware.

    Privacy is ultimately defined by what people decide to share or not. It remains to be seen what people decide should be made public and what remains “forgotten”, as it were.

    More of my thoughts on privacy can be found in the following video:

     
    Posted in CTO Insights | Comments Off


    May4
    11:00 pm (UTC-7)   |    by

    Today’s technology is becoming better and better at an exponential clip. It was only a few decades ago that we had cellphones the size of bricks and Internet the speed of which is only a fraction of a single percent of today’s connections. Now we carry powerful computers in our pockets as well as wear them for watches, and we can download entire libraries in less than a couple of moments.

    But with all benefits there are prices to pay for such convenience. One of them is how the companies behind such conveniences use them to collect data from their customers – how they use the service, when and where and who and why. The fact is, these companies never reveal the fact that they do so readily – more often than not, it is discovered by someone who bothers to look, and whenever they do there’s always a furor surrounding it, to the point of a scandal.

    Is data gathering really something to be upset about? Every company does it. Amazon, for example, takes note of what you buy or prefer or look for, and brings up suggestions for you every time you log in so that you save time and energy. Even coffeeshops take note of what regulars order, and cheerfully suggest someone’s ‘usual’ whenever they walk in. If the information they gather helps improve their services instead of some other clandestine and probably illegal purpose, then can data gathering really hurt?

    To be honest, I don’t think so – so long as the right conditions are met. Watch my video as I tackle this sensitive issue.

     
    Posted in CTO Insights | Comments Off



    It is an interesting time to be in IT security today. PRISM and Edward Snowden taught many lessons about how companies should secure their data. There’s been a lot of discussion about the surveillance aspect of this, but consider this whole affair from the side of the NSA.

    To the NSA, this was a data breach of unprecedented proportions. All indications are that Snowden was able to exfiltrate a significant amount of classified data; what has been published so far represents a relatively small portion of what he was able to access. Consider that Snowden technically wasn’t even an employee – he was a contractor. How did he do this? How could a contractor access this much information?

    Some companies may think – “if it can happen to a spy agency, there’s nothing we could do. We should just give up and not protect our data anymore.” Others may say: “let’s build a bigger wall around our data.” Both approaches are incorrect. Obviously, you have to protect your data. However, neither can enterprises just try and protect everything with the same rigor. A truly determined attacker can get in if he wants to get in.

    What an enterprise needs to focus on is what really needs to be protected. Which sets of data, if stolen, can ruin a business? Are they the trade secrets? Or maybe customer data? This will differ for each company – what may be vital for one organization may be trivial for another. Each organization has to decide for itself. Some examples of what a company can consider core data would be: trade secrets, research and development documents, and partner information. Each of these would represent millions of dollars in losses, not just in monetary terms, but in trust and confidence as well.

    Once these core data have been selected and identified, the next step is: defend these strongly. How? That would depend on what the data is, how it is stored, and who needs to access it. Is it something that can be locked in a vault and kept offline for years on end, or is it something that needs to be accessed on a daily basis? For each organization, the challenges will be different, and so will the solutions.

    We must not forget one other component of security: end users. Difficult as it is, end users should be educated to not fall for simple scams. Examples include, “If the administrator asks you for your user credential and password, maybe you should ask another one instead. If you receive an email, which sounds too good to be true, don’t click on it.”

    All in all, it’s a combination of identifying what’s most important, deploying the right technologies, and educating users. It is everybody’s job – not just those of IT professionals – to ensure that the company’s core data stays safe.

     

    For more details on various targeted attacks, as well as best practices for enterprises, you may visit our Threat Intelligence Resources on Targeted Attacks.

     
    Posted in CTO Insights, Targeted Attacks | Comments Off


    Mar18
    9:22 pm (UTC-7)   |    by

    There is no doubt that mobile banking is going to become very significant in 2014, if it isn’t already. In the United States, a quarter of all people selecting a bank say mobile banking is a “must-have”. In parts of the developing world, mobile banking is even the dominant form of banking. There is no doubt anymore that mobile banking is a big part of the banking landscape – which means, of course, that it is bound to become a big part of the threat landscape as well.

    In the past, smartphones were generally used to help protect normal online banking transactions. Banks would send users a Transaction Authorization Number (TAN) via SMS that they would have to enter on their PCs to verify that a transaction was valid. It’s essentially a form of two-factor authorization that improves security by providing a second means of authentication for users.

    However, in mobile banking, this second form of authentication is usually not present. This leaves users just as open to banking threats as they were elsewhere without a TAN in use: malware on the mobile device can act as a man-in-the-middle Trojan and carry out information theft as easily as they would on other platforms. This is something we explicitly talked about in our predictions for 2014.

    So, what can you do to help protect yourself? I discuss that topic in the video below.

     
    Posted in CTO Insights, Mobile | Comments Off


    Dec8
    7:43 pm (UTC-7)   |    by

    The past year has been an interesting one in the world of cyber security. Mobile malware has become a large-scale threat, government surveillance has users asking “does privacy still exist?”, cybercrime continues to steal money from individuals and businesses, and new targets for hackers like AIS and SCADA have been identified. 2013 was many things, but boring was not one of them.

    So, what do we have to look forward to in 2014 and beyond?

    We expect mobile malware to not just keep growing, but to indirectly affect other platforms and devices as well. What do we mean? Consider how we’re using our smartphones not just for banking, but for authentication (using either apps or text messages). It’s a logical step forward that cybercriminals will systematically go after these as well. 2014 will be about mobile banking. Two-factor authentication is not a cure all – while it can improve IT security, it also introduces new attack vectors that have to be considered and make secure as well.

    Mobile was the “next big thing” a few years ago. What about today’s “next big thing”, the Internet of Everything? Attackers and cybercriminals always go where the money – and the users – are. In the absence of a “killer app” that will get most users to welcome it with open arms, the Internet of Everything is probably not going to see much in the way of threats – for now.

    What is going to see threats are old systems – specifically those running Windows XP. By the time Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP next year, more than twelve and a half years will have passed since it was released. In the world of technology, that is an eternity. Unfortunately, however, many businesses are still using Windows XP. Once the patches stop being released, they will have no protection from Microsoft against zero-day exploits. We just saw a new zero-day target only Windows XP and Server 2003; there are certainly more that haven’t been used or discovered yet.

    Working with other Trend Micro researchers and analysts, we’ve put together our look at the threat landscape for 2014 and beyond, titled Blurring Boundaries. There are many interesting developments going on today; but these come with their own risks that we must all be aware of.

     
    Posted in CTO Insights | Comments Off


     

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