Overlooked Concerns in Companies Cybersecurity Infrastructure: What 2020 Taught Us



Overlooked Concerns in Companies Cybersecurity Infrastructure: What 2020 Taught Us

There is absolutely nothing static about IT security and the management of cybersecurity. Just as soon as a cybersecurity professional feels that they have a grasp on an existing issue, a new challenge rears its ugly head. Since business has become so reliant on technology and every component of technology brings with it its own potential risks, it’s challenging to keep track of everything that can put a business at risk.

This challenge has taken on a new dynamic in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic turned the world on its head. The business sector needed to respond quickly to provide people with the products and services they needed to keep living a normal life. This meant that many industries needed to adapt to technologies they were planning on implementing. And cyber criminals were there looking for weaknesses to take advantage of.

Even without considering the effect that the coronavirus had, 2020 was already shaping up to be a year that was going to present unique cybersecurity challenges. Targeted phishing scams were on the rise. Hackers had become more creative with the creation of malware and the ability to steal user credentials. The Internet of things is taking on a larger role in people’s professional and personal life. And this brought with it many new cybersecurity challenges.

Unfortunately, there are more cyber threats than they are cybersecurity experts. The cybersecurity industry has been trying to triage the situation, identifying the biggest threats and trying to focus on those first and then addressing those that are considered of lesser danger.

How the Internet of Things Is Putting Businesses at Risk

According to NETSCOUT’s Threat Intelligence Report the average amount of time that it takes for an IoT device to be attacked once connected to the Internet is 5 minutes. Keeping in mind that IoT devices are one of primary targets for DDoS, MITM attacks, or general snooping, every organization practically must secure all IoT devices in order to avoid cyberattacks that could cost a fortune to recover from.

There are simple steps that organizations and individuals can take to protect themselves from some more common forms of cyber crime. Strong passwords, keeping devices locked, and having devices timeout if they are not being used for a set amount of time are all helpful. Using a VPN solution that offers strong encryption could potentially minimize the risk of IoT devices being hacked as well, because once the device is connected to a VPN, all of its traffic is encrypted therefore it makes it difficult for hackers to launch a targeted attack, or track user activity.

However, most employees and business owners have yet to grasp the role that the Internet of things plays in creating vulnerabilities in a business’s security infrastructure.

For example, an employee works remotely and has Internet of things appliances in their home. What if the Internet of things devices are not secure? A hacker can take control of one of these devices in the employees’ home. Since their work laptop is connected to the same network, now the organization they work for is at risk. Therefore, businesses should train their employees about the need to be aware of cybersecurity measures, even with the smart appliances they have in their home.

Fileless Malware

As if 2020 did not already give us enough new threats to be concerned about, fileless malware is rearing its ugly head. This is a unique software that differs completely from other malware threats we are accustomed to. If phishing scams that are able to infect your devices with malware are bad enough (especially the ones that flooded inboxes of many since the pandemic started), this type of malware is even worse.

Hackers are relentless in their desire to inject malicious files into a user’s system. However, fileless malware attacks from a different direction. It has been designed to be untraceable because it works behind authorized applications. It can perform dangerous activity while the legitimate application or legitimate process is running. It can stay hid because it is memory-based. The only protection against memory-based cyber-attacks and threats is to get rid of macros on endpoint systems.

Poor Data Encryption

In light of COVID-19, many organizations are trying to create or improve their encryption policy. The encryption policies they are coming up with work great for data that is in transit. However, what many organizations fail to realize is that those same encryption protocols do not provide security for information in data storage.

If data encryption is not secure, an organization and its information are at risk. Something that has to change going forward is storing encryption keys on the same device as the data and access that employees use within the organization. If encryption is going to work, they must store encryption keys on a separate system as opposed to being on the same system that holds the data.

Operational Technology and the Internet of Medical Things

Many organizations are adding connected technologies to their manufacturing process. Examples of these include industrial control systems, distributed control systems, and supervisory control and data acquisition systems. In a manufacturing environment, you will see several devices on an assembly line, ranging from pressure sensors to robots to temperature systems. These devices are interconnected and create a unique security risk that can put a critical infrastructure in danger of being compromised.

A report was released in 2019 showing a 2,000 percent increase in operational technology cybersecurity attacks. These numbers have only risen in 2020. As more companies take advantage of innovation and connectivity, nefarious individuals are taking notice and looking for ways to carry out security attacks. Therefore, many organizations have seen the benefit of adopting operational technology security strategies.

The Internet of medical things has become especially important in 2020 as the world’s medical community works together to fight the coronavirus. There are several medical devices and software applications that work together and are connected to the Internet. These range from blood infusion pumps to patient trackers. The information that is gathered by these devices helps healthcare providers make informed decisions. Any cybersecurity attack that affects the Internet of medical things has the potential to interfere with healthcare and physically hurt people. The healthcare industry is in the top 10 targeted industry for cybersecurity attacks.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that new technology and changes in the business landscape require organizations to adapt and integrate threat management. This is a new challenge for organizational security. For example, an Internet of things attack needs to be evaluated from all sides with the goal of determining the IT asset the attacker is actually after. The Internet of things or the operational technology device might be used as an attack vector with the goal of gaining access to more secure information.

From 2020 moving forward, an integrated approach to threat management must be carried out. This means that organizations will need to identify, detect, protect, and recover systems and data.