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How to stay one step ahead of cyber threats

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Just under half of the companies surveyed in South Africa and the Middle East said they detected 50 or more threats in the last year. BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Country Manager, Citrix South Africa provides some tips on how to keep up with the cybercrime world.

In the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global State of Information Security Survey 2016, 41.44% of companies in South Africa and the Middle East reported that they had detected 50 or more cybersecurity incidents in the past 12 months. This was in comparison to the global total of 31.59%. A further 17.47% of South African and Middle Eastern companies had identified between 10 and 49 threats in the same time period.

These statistics are indicative of a constantly evolving beast – today’s information security landscape. As attack vectors continue to grow, assaults become more frequent and attackers become even more sophisticated. The need to continually adapt to an increasingly hostile environment has resulted in a significant change from the familiar security measures that kept us “comfortable” a mere five years ago. Although these measures are still valid, the reality is that they are nowhere near sufficient to combat the dangers of today’s increasingly complex threats.

Here are seven recommendations to help you keep up with the rapid pace of change in cybersecurity:

1.       Say goodbye to generic “best practices” security

Compliance is not a security programme – it’s a starting point. Any organisation that is still just ticking the boxes on their audit report is getting breached. Have this conversation in the boardroom and use it to drive the culture towards security that is specifically tailored to the business.

2.       Patching is a daily event

Flaws in applications, services such as DNS and foundational software, including OpenSSL, mean that, unlike a few years ago, we can’t wait a month or more for patches.  Ensure your organisation can respond with instant remediation across workstations, mobile, servers and clouds. Manage at the application level to respond without having to push new desktop images.

3.       Security just got personal

Targeted attacks go after specific individuals with personalised messages and payloads from an apparently trusted source. It’s getting more and more difficult – even for security professionals – to differentiate the malignant from the benign. And the highly rare APT ups the ante when the attacker has found a truly valuable target. More education is necessary, but can only go so far. Hardening must reduce the default attack surface as much as possible, and containment strategies further sandbox attacks.

4.       Breaches are to be expected

Formerly denied and only discussed in secret, breaches are now a reporting requirement for many organisations. A prescribed approach to incident management includes both technical and reputational responses. Containing breaches and their impact has been a deciding use case for app virtualisation across governments, healthcare and financial services. Virtualising all browser-based access is a leading practice for containing attacks against one of the most popular entry points for organisational breach.

5.       End-to-end strong encryption is mandatory

Encryption is no longer just for networks and hard drives. Encryption must protect sensitive data within and between applications, from desktops to mobile. Criminals have also recognised the value of encryption, with ransomware leveraging encryption as a weapon. And, as the painful death of SSL has shown, outdated encryption can be as bad as no encryption at all. Ensure that you control encryption for endpoints through app and desktop virtualisation, on mobile devices with enterprise mobility management, and for cloud and web apps with an application delivery controller with embedded web app firewall.

6.       Security begins with access 

A deep knowledge of situational context is necessary to control identity, authentication, authorisation and access control. Focus on the 5Ws of Access for employees and non-employees – who needs access, what are they accessing and when, where do they need access from, and why do they require access. Use virtualisation to provide fine-grained access control for privileged users and to ensure that there is no direct access to sensitive data.

7.       IT has competition

End users think they can do computing better themselves. And in some ways, they can. But not security. Ensure that Shadow IT, unsanctioned BYO and the use of consumer-grade apps, clouds and services for sensitive data are replaced with IT-controlled and sanctioned offerings. Simplify things for users by enabling single sign on, improving their access and automating a superior experience across devices.

This is by no means a prescriptive list. Information security teams should remain on guard at all times and aim to stay one step ahead of those who will take advantage of any negligence or ignorance. Nobody can afford to stand still. Attack vectors and exploitation methods will increase alarmingly, as more devices, people and locations become connected. And, as IoT becomes more of a reality, the need for sophisticated cybersecurity will increase exponentially. It’s time to keep watch, with both eyes open.

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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