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Make the vulnerable visible

Dealing with encrypted traffic can be complex, costly, and disruptive. The problem escalates immeasurably if you are operating blind to cyber threats, which is basically what businesses are doing without a comprehensive SSL/TLS strategy in place, writes SIMON MCCOLLOUGH, Major Channel Account Manager, F5 Networks.

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Regrettably, too many still misplace their trust in inadequate security solutions, often leaving IT departments with an unenviable choice: let the traffic go uninspected or suffer extreme application performance losses.

In the new age of digital consent and compliance, can you afford to expose vulnerable data to high risk due to operational myopia, which will damage your brand reputation and lose customer trust?

Bypassing traditional security

Encrypting data-in-transit with SSL/TLS is already standard practice. Important security initiatives, such as built-in web browser warnings and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), have significantly improved privacy awareness and helped mitigate data breach magnitudes.

While this is all good news, cybercriminals will always find a way to hide threats within encrypted payloads or use encrypted channels to propagate malware and exfiltrate data. Traditional security inspection solutions are becoming an increasingly easy challenge to overcome.

Ostensibly, gaining full visibility into encrypted traffic is never easy. Most organisations typically lack a central control to implement decryption policies across the multiple security inspection devices commonly found in the security chain. Consequently, security teams resort to daisy-chaining devices or tedious manual configurations to support inspection activities, increasing latency, complexity, and risk. All too often, the provisioning of network and security services, such as firewalls and security gateways, can turn into a time-intensive and error-prone process if SSL inspections are in the mix.

At the same time, eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle hijacks will continue to rise due to superannuated transport layer encryption standards still being in use, even though they have been officially retired as “broken”.

Many are also struggling to get the most out of the technology or understand how to best deploy it. Recent research from F5 Labs reveals that while 63% of surveyed business respondents use SSL/TLS encryption for their web applications, only 46% use it for the majority of their applications.

Furthermore, 47% of organisations said they use self-signed certificates, which reduces application trustworthiness. This is unacceptable. Security teams need to ensure all applications are running suitable levels of encryption and have adequate third-party signed certificates in place.

There is far too much confusion and bad practice out there. It’s high time businesses get their heads around growing SSL/TLS complexities, not to mention the associated impacts on data breaches, compliance, and privacy.

Improving your cryptographic posture

Fortunately, it is not all opaque doom and gloom. With the right encryption orchestrator solution, it is now possible to dramatically reduce the risk of encrypted attacks through dynamic service-chaining, which enables automatic insertion of physical or virtual security service appliances.

It is important to note that the best tools always balance app performance and risk mitigation, giving security teams all-encompassing visibility into encrypted traffic. This allows them to effectively manage and quickly respond to previously invisible threats. In addition, improved threat detection and attack remediation capabilities can improve overall operational efficiency across your entire application security infrastructure. As a rule of thumb, your SSL/TLS strategy should be able to:

·        Defend against encrypted threats by scaling SSL across multiple security devices blind to encrypted traffic

·        Prevent data loss and ensure compliance by gaining visibility into all data connection points (inbound and outbound traffic)

·        Have a single point of control across multiple security tools for greater efficiencies

·        Prevent attacks by reducing risks of selective blind spots

·        Reduce latency with high-performance decryption and encryption of inbound and outbound SSL/TLS traffic

·        Leverage policy-based service chaining to drive greater efficiencies within your security stack

·        Load balance between devices to minimise bottlenecks

·        Reduce the administrative burden with centralised key management, saving considerable time and money by offloading SSL instead of terminating on the device itself

Securing tomorrow

The ultimate goal is to simplify the SSL/TLS management process, keeping data secure and gaining full visibility into encrypted traffic without compromising application speed or availability.

To do this, businesses need the ability to properly scan inbound and outbound traffic. Crucially, they have to vividly visualise and analyse the nature of today’s attacks vectors in order to secure their applications, which are by far the most valuable, data-laden assets at stake. Remember, there’s nowhere to hide when it comes to the cybercriminals’ encryption corruption. Now is the time to future-proof yourself against tomorrow’s threats.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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