CyberSecurity Media Pitch Topics

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CyberSecurity Media Pitch Topics

Three current topics in the cybersecurity space include the recent cybersecurity executive order signed by President Trump, the new report from 1E and Vanson Bourne regarding the state of cyber preparedness in the private sector, and US Cyber Command's new actions to protect the US and its allies from cyber interference by hostile state actors. Below, we have provided an overview of these topics, in addition to two topics, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and data integrity breaches, that can be discussed in an informational and educational capacity.

President Trump's Cybersecurity Executive Order

  • Last Thursday, May 2, President Trump signed a multifaceted executive order with the goal of addressing the federal government's need to bolster its cybersecurity workforce.
  • One aspect of the executive order is its call to standardize "job listings to help cybersecurity workers more easily move around government" and prevent talented workers from being compartmentalized in one department.
  • Similarly, the order calls for the creation of a "rotational employment program between the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies."
  • Another aspect of the order is the establishment of "awards for elementary and secondary school educators who foster cybersecurity talent," seeking to grow interest in cybersecurity at the grassroots level.
  • Perhaps the most notable aspect of the order, and the one that appears to be getting the most media attention, is the initiation of the "President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition," a competition seeking to promote innovation among federal cybersecurity employees in which the winner will be awarded $25,000.
  • The goal of this competition is to "identify, challenge, and reward the United States Government’s best cybersecurity practitioners and teams across offensive and defensive cybersecurity disciplines."
  • With "a shortage of as many as 300,000 cybersecurity professionals across the federal government," the executive order is widely lauded and, as US Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) said, "long overdue."

New Cybersecurity Report from 1E & Vanson Bourne

  • Last week, a new report "conducted by endpoint management specialists 1E and technology market researchers Vanson Bourne" revealed surprising shortcomings in the state of the business world's cybersecurity preparedness.
  • The report consists of an extensive survey of "600 senior IT decision-makers (300 from IT Operations and 300 from IT Security) across the US and UK," as well as opinions and guidance plans from multiple leading cybersecurity experts.
  • Some surprising findings include the revelation that 60% of surveyed organizations had a major cyber breach in the past two years, while 31% had more than one breach in that span.
  • Additionally, only 23% of surveyed representatives "believe that the IT operations and IT security teams work together extremely well to secure the business" in their companies, with 97% thinking that at least some improvement in this regard would be beneficial.
  • Perhaps the most surprising finding of the report was that, despite "the vast majority of successful attacks today...using known vulnerabilities in well-known software that have been patched already by software vendors," the surveyed organizations' IT estates only had visibility of "64 percent of their organization's total software estate and only 66 percent of this software is current," on average.
  • In other words, this report is perhaps most notable in that it indicates "to the CIO and CISO community was that if you’re breached or hacked, it's your own fault," given that most breaches are preventable and could be avoided simply by enhancing visibility and cooperation in addition to updating software.

US Cyber Command Builds on its election defense systems

  • After the success of last year's "Synthetic Theology" mission, which defended the US midterm elections from foreign cyber interference, US Cyber Command announced that it is "hunting inside other countries’ networks for threats and to gain insights to thwart foreign interference in the 2020 [presidential] campaign."
  • Cyber Command will be partnering with allied countries primarily to combat the cyber-attack efforts of Russia, particularly in democratic elections of the US and its allies.
  • Cyber Command has initiated deployments in several countries, such as Ukraine, Montenegro and Macedonia, and plans to expand deployments "to impose costs on Moscow, to make Russia’s attempts to mount online operations in Europe and elsewhere more difficult and to potentially bog down Moscow’s operatives and degrade their ability to interfere in American elections."
  • This policy was announced on Tuesday, May 7, one year after Cyber Command was elevated to "a full combatant command on a par with Central Command or Special Operations Command."
  • This is a significant development in the ongoing saga regarding Russian interference in democratic elections in the US and elsewhere, one of the hottest topics in cybersecurity. Cyber Command says the new actions are part of its "persistent engagement" strategy to prevent future interference in the US and its allies.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a common cybersecurity tactic in which multiple forms of authentication are required to access sensitive materials.
  • Three common types of authentication factors are passwords, security tokens (e.g. an identification card), and biometric verification. For example, a MFA utilizing all three of these factors might include entering a password, swiping a card, and utilizing a fingerprint scanner.
  • MFA is not only an important tactic to ensure "privileged user access" of sensitive data, it is often "required to comply with regulations."
  • MFA is rarely the only technique used to protect sensitive data, but it is an important tool in the cybersecurity arsenal, particularly because "weak or stolen user credentials" are used in 95% of hacking incidents; MFA can prevent these incidents from occurring.
  • Because "password theft is constantly evolving," with new methods developed by cyber-criminals regularly, MFA is one of the few ways to ensure that data is protected. Numerous techniques, such as dictionary attacks, brute force attacks, and rainbow table attacks, can be used by hackers to determine passwords, creating a need for additional authentication factors.

Data integrity breaches

  • Data integrity is defined simply as "the accuracy and consistency (validity) of data over its lifecycle." As such, data integrity breaches are cyber attacks in which hackers seek to alter the accuracy or consistency of data, rather than (or in addition to) deleting it, stealing it, or restricting access to it.
  • Some examples of how this type of attack could affect different entities in substantial ways are altering data from a FitBit or similar device to inaccurately display a fast heart rate, or changing the locations to which first responders are traveling, preventing them from arriving as quickly as possible.
  • This is also the type of breach that would potentially affect driverless cars: a data integrity breach could cause driverless cars behaving erratically and potentially dangerously.
  • Aside from these potential areas of impact, hackers have already targeted the data integrity of banks, public infrastructure, and others, making this type of hack one of the most significant trends in cybersecurity.

Your research team employed the following strategy:

To find topics that would be relevant for an attorney specializing in cybersecurity to discuss in a media interview, we first conducted a search of recent news articles. From this search, we selected three notable topics on which multiple outlets had reported, selecting several relevant sources to provide an overview of each topic. After this was completed, we conducted a search of organizations and companies in the cybersecurity space, allowing us to locate two topics in that space that could be discussed in an informative and educational capacity. After locating these topics, we gathered additional sources to provide a more robust overview of both of these topics.

  • "The Trump administration announced steps to address a shortage of cybersecurity workers across the federal government, including sponsorship of a national competition and allowing cyber experts to rotate from one agency to another. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday that directed the Department of Homeland Security to work with the Office of Management and Budget to create a rotational program that will “serve as a mechanism for knowledge transfer” across agencies."
  • "The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of DHS, along with OMB and other agencies will also develop an annual cybersecurity competition for federal employees called the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition, the order said. The first such challenge will be held in 2019 and will award at least $25,000 to the winner, according to the order."
  • "The steps are intended to address a shortage of as many as 300,000 cybersecurity professionals across the federal government, according to DHS. The efforts are intended to attract cyber experts from private industry to consider working for the government and also assess whether workers currently not working in cybersecurity may have the aptitude and skills to switch jobs."
  • "President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that aims to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity workforce. The order laid a number of sorely needed federal initiatives. Among them: standardizing job listings to help cybersecurity workers more easily move around government, creating a rotational employment program between the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, establishing awards for elementary and secondary school educators who foster cybersecurity talent, and incentivizing people to learn and master hacking skills through new “awards and decorations.”"
  • "Perhaps the most interesting part of the document called for a “president’s cup cybersecurity competition.” The goal, the directive states, “shall be to identify, challenge, and reward the United States Government’s best cybersecurity practitioners and teams across offensive and defensive cybersecurity disciplines.” The order mandates that such a contest, intended for both military and civilians, will take place before the end of the year."
  • ""The Nation is experiencing a shortage of cybersecurity talent and capability," the executive order reads. To address this, President Trump is calling for more work-based learning apprenticeships and blended learning opportunities to upskill the workforce. As part of this, the executive order calls for the creation of a cybersecurity rotational assignment program and a "President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition" for federal workers."
  • ""For all the focus and investment in cybersecurity, the majority of businesses in the U.S. and U.K. are still leaving their doors wide open to attacks. Attacks that can potentially stop business operations for a few hours, and at their worst, wipe billions from the value of a company overnight." So says a new cybersecurity survey conducted by endpoint management specialists 1E and technology market researchers Vanson Bourne, a survey that questioned 600 IT operations and IT security decision-makers across the U.S. and U.K., and found that 60% of the organizations had been breached in the last two years and 31% had been breached more than once."
  • "Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E, told me that the research showed "the vast majority of successful attacks today are using known vulnerabilities in well-known software that have been patched already by software vendors. So, most of the successful attacks can be stopped just by knowing what you have out there and making sure it’s patched. But for about one-third of the IT estates of these organizations, the CIO's team doesn't actually know what hardware is out there or what software is running on it."
  • "That research claims that "despite significant cybersecurity investment in many areas, there has been very limited improvement with the largest factor in organizational vulnerability: keeping endpoints properly patched and updated," and that "93% of respondents are experiencing challenges - amongst a wide range of issues, the leading ones are restrictive budgets, a lack of understanding between IT Operations and IT Security, and legacy systems.""
  • "Like me, you may think the findings are both interesting and disturbing. Sixty percent of organizations told us that they have suffered a serious cyber breach in the last two years. Over 30% have suffered more than one. Yet the situation is still not under control. These events are avoidable but unless something changes soon, our data suggests we will have to brace ourselves for more major breaches in the near future."
  • "This report highlights the causes for this, such as a lack of visibility and control across one third of endpoints, a crisis of trust between IT Security and IT Operations, and the ongoing struggle to patch software or even keep Operating Systems current. New challenges such as the digital revolution and mobile workforce are only making the problem worse."
  • "Only 23 percent believe that the IT operations and IT security teams work together extremely well to secure the business. Nearly all (97 percent) believe that their organization would benefit from better collaboration between these teams."
  • "Sumir Karayi, CEO at 1E says, "Businesses are losing control of their estates because of fundamental issues such as the widening gap between IT Operations and IT Security and deferred responsibility.""
  • "On average, respondents have visibility of just 64 percent of their organization's total software estate and only 66 percent of this software is current. Most respondents want to see an investment increase in areas such as software migration automation (80 percent), breach response and remediation (67 percent), and/or software patching (65 percent)."
  • "In the wake of a military cyberoperation that defense officials have credited with helping safeguard last year’s midterm elections, the Pentagon’s Cyber Command is hunting inside other countries’ networks for threats and to gain insights to thwart foreign interference in the 2020 campaign, officials said."
  • "Code-named Synthetic Theology, last year’s operation leveraged new authorities, granted by the president and Congress, enabling U.S. agencies to become more aggressive in foreign cyberspace in defense of the nation."
  • "Though the operation has ended, Cybercom is continuing its close relationship with the National Security Agency and working to build partnerships with other nations, other U.S. agencies and American industry, senior Cybercom officials said Tuesday in their first extensive public briefing on efforts to combat election interference and other threats."
  • "Aided by NSA intelligence, Cybercom’s midterm operation successfully blocked Russian trolls working at the infamous Internet Research Agency from posting divisive messages on U.S. social media in an effort to sow discord among Americans as they went to the polls in November. The several-day operation to knock out the trolls’ Internet access so frustrated them that they complained to their system administrators about the disruption."
  • "American officials are pushing ahead on efforts with allied nations to counter Russia’s interference in democratic elections and other malign activities, military cybercommanders said on Tuesday, an effort intended to allow the United States to better observe and counter Moscow’s newest cyberweapons."
  • "American officials deployed last year to Ukraine, Macedonia and Montenegro, and United States Cyber Command officials said that their missions included defending elections and uncovering information about Russia’s newest abilities. Cyber Command will continue some of those partnerships and expand its work to other countries under attack from Russia, officials said Tuesday."
  • "Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction."
  • "Privileged user access increasingly requires multi-factor authentication (MFA) to comply with regulations as well as to ensure that only authorized human users access privileged accounts and systems versus malware or bots trying to impersonate your IT staff."
  • "Admins have installed antivirus software, raised the firewall, deployed encryption technology, and periodically run vulnerability tests. But the sobering reality is that if multi-factor authentication (MFA) is not in place, these other security measures can be bypassed. A best practice for IT managers is to categorize their systems to identify the ones that contain access to business-critical data, and then add MFA on top of those."
  • "Identity theft is an easy, low-risk, high-reward type of crime and a threat to all businesses. It is the fastest-growing type of crime and is now more profitable than drug-related crimes, [and] weak or stolen user credentials are hackers' weapon of choice, used in 95 percent of all Web application attacks."
  • "U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper famously stated in late 2015 that “While most of the public discussion regarding cyber threats today is focused on the confidentiality and availability of information, in the future, however, we might also see more cyber operations that will change or manipulate electronic information in order to compromise its integrity (i.e., accuracy and reliability) instead of deleting it or disrupting access to it”."
  • "Data used in public infrastructure can be an easy target for manipulation by external attackers or insiders to tactical or strategic effect. In late December 2015, about 80,000 residents in western Ukraine lost power for six hours following a Russian cyber attack, according to cyber security firms SANS ICS and iSight Partners."
  • "As more aspects of life are digitized, including household devices as part of the Internet of Things (IoT), ominous over-the-top hacker movies such as Live Free or Die hard are becoming more plausible. What if a home automation system is compromised such that people were prevented from entering their own homes? Or, in the case of driverless cars that heavily depend on information from its immediate environment, what if an attacker feeds in wrong information into one of these cars potentially causing a critical crash?"
  • "Data integrity refers to the accuracy and consistency (validity) of data over its lifecycle. Compromised data, after all, is of little use to enterprises, not to mention the dangers presented by sensitive data loss. For this reason, maintaining data integrity is a core focus of many enterprise security solutions."
  • "Stolen data is one thing - the consequences are obvious. But what if data is not stolen or leaked, but rather altered? What could be the damage?"